My Kids Favorite Smoothie AKA My Favorite Way to Hide Supplements and Superfoods!
A few months ago while at my youngest child's one year well child exam, we found out through a simple blood test that she had iron deficient anemia. When you don't have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues in the body, you are referred to as "anemic" (and there are many different ways for a person to become anemic), but a common cause is low iron levels. The body requires iron to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen, the result is an overall decrease in the amount of oxygen carrying blood cells. Common signs and symptoms would include decreased alertness, irritability, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, loss of appetite, brittle nails, and a sore or swollen tongue. It is also common, like in our case, that the child might not display any symptoms at all.
It is routine to screen a baby at the one year well child check up for this issue as it has become a rising concern. Some babies are at a higher risk, which include, premature babies, babies that are fed cows milk prior to age 1, babies that are fed formula not fortified with iron, babies that aren't breast fed, and babies that don't consume iron rich foods prior to a year. We had none of these risk factors.
The typical treatment in our incidence is to increase the amount of iron she is eating and supplement with11mg of a liquid iron supplement. I didn't feel right about this for a few different reasons. Taking an iron supplement doesn't come without risk. They are often synthetically derived and aren't highly absorbable and can cause diarrhea and black stools. I began to research and I contacted my nutritional therapist friend, who I collaborate often with. She reminded me that she is eating enough iron, she is not absorbing the iron... RIGHT! That was exactly what my gut was telling me. Just supplementing her with Iron wasn't going to fix the lack of absorption problem. My desire is to ALWAYS get to the root, look at the whole picture, and not just the symptoms. I choose to look at it from a holistic standpoint, seek experts, research, and find the best way for our situation.
Please note that this is our unique story. This isn't meant to diagnose, treat, or prevent any illness or ailment. This is our story and our results. Seek medical professionals from many different modalities and specialties to get a full picture for your situation.
Action, Action, We Want Action!
So how was I going to get her to absorb more iron? Adding foods rich in Vitamin C along with foods rich in Iron will assist the body to absorb the iron. Another direction I was thinking was that she was lacking the digestive enzymes to adequately break down the foods to fully absorb the nutrients.
Red meat contains the highest amount of dietary iron and they say that it is more readily absorbed by the body. I wanted to avoid this route, not because we are vegetarians, but she is one year old. She eats all the foods we eat, but I didn't feel good about increasing the amount of meat she was already eating. It usually just ends up on the floor anyway. The supplement was for 11mg of iron daily, so I sought out to add that amount dietary while giving her digestive enzymes to see if that would assist in increasing absorption of iron, and replenishing the iron stores in her body.
The Iron Crew
Here is a list of dietary items I focused on feeding to Ellie. The smoothie recipe is at the end!
- Legumes are a wonderful source of iron. Pinto beans, which Ellie LOVES, contain approximately 1.6mg per 1/2 cup of prepared beans
- Organic Hemp Hearts are wonderful in smoothies, sprinkled on avocado toast, or mixed in soups and pack a powerful 4mg per 3Tbs!
- Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of both vitamin C and iron, among many other micronutrients. We use doTERRA TerraGreens powder for ease of use and the power of not only spinach, but kale, dandelion greens, cabbage leaves, broccoli leaves, parsley, and collard greens.
- Meats like beef, turkey, chicken, shellfish, etc. are high in iron. We chose not to focus on an increase of these items, but you could. We chose the plant based options instead.
- Other foods high in iron: Pumpkin seeds, Quinoa, Tofu, and Dark Chocolate.
This recipe was made to be split amongst all my kids and yielded 3, 4oz cups of the smoothie.
- 1 cup of water, orange juice, or nut milk (I like to use filtered water. My kids don't care for the nut milk in the smoothie, but it will be more creamy. If your kids aren't used to the greens taste, then the orange juice can add a sweetness to it).
- 1 scoop of doTERRA Vanilla TrimShake
- 1 scoop of doTERRA TerraGreens Powder
- 3tsp of doTERRA IQ Mega Omega Fatty Acid supplement
- 1 capsule doTERRA Microplex VMZ opened up OR 3 chewable tablets of doTERRA A2Z vitamins
- 1 capsule doTERRA TerraZyme Digestive Enzyme Complex
- 3Tbs of Organic Hemp Hearts
- 1 sachet packet of doTERRA PB Assist Jr probiotics
- 1 cup of organic frozen berries of choice. We like a strawberry/blueberry/blackberry mix
Add all contents to a blender and blend until combined. Pour into a cup and enjoy!
To say I was a ball of nerves is an understatement. I was applying all the calming oils to myself before I went into that recheck appointment. I was very confident in my choice to not supplement with iron, but as moms we are ALWAYS second guessing ourselves. I am not immune to that. In fact, I beat myself about my choices ALL.THE.TIME even though I know I am doing great things for the health of my family.
Her capillary Hemoglobin numbers were 10.2 three months prior. Bottom of normal is 11 so I was praying it would at least be 11.5 to give us a teeny bit of wiggle room. The results of her test came in and I about hit the ceiling... 14.3!!!! It went up 4 points!!! I could hardly believe it!
Trust your guts mamas! If you are feeling pulled in a direction, despite the advice of a medical professional- just know that you are allowed to question. You are allowed to ask questions. And you are allowed to seek out other options and research your little heart out.