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Thalassemia and Nutrition

Nutrition is very important for many, especially those with thalassemia. Individuals are encouraged to eat a balanced diet consisting of protein, grains, fruits, and vegetables and may need to pay extra attention to ensure not getting high amounts of iron through their diet.

For non-transfused thalassemia patients - a low-iron diet is encouraged—that is, avoiding excessive consumption of high iron foods like red meat.

For transfused patients on chelation therapy, a low-iron diet isn’t necessary.

Protein Foods

Protein is very important for growth and development. However, many high protein foods are also high in iron.

Foods to consume: eggs, yogurt, beans, peanut butter, nuts, cheese, soy

Foods to consume in moderation (have higher iron): beef, lamb, pork, liver, dark poultry,

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and Vitamin D are necessary because some of the secondary health problems that occur in people with thalassemia affect bone formation.

Calcium – milk, yogurt, cheese, white beans

Vitamin D – choose milk fortified with Vitamin D

It is difficult to get adequate Vitamin D through foods, so you may need a supplement.

Infant and toddler: 400 units daily

Child: 1000 units daily

Teen and adult: 2000 units daily

Foods that interfere with iron absorption

  • Dairy
  • Tea (such as black tea) and Coffee
  • Soy (milk, edamame, meat substitutes, tofu)

Fluids

Ensure adequate hydration. Your child needs _____ ounces of fluid each day.

Multivitamins

Some children may need multivitamins to help ensure they are meeting their nutrient requirements.

Recommended Multivitamins:

  • Gummy Multivitamin
  • Centrum Silver Adult Multivitamin/Multimineral (No iron, not performance/women’s)

Questions?

This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please ask the health care team working with your family.

Reviewed 10/2016

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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