Got teenagers? Do you know what teenage girls need 30 percent more of than boys? The answer is iron.
Iron is found in every cell in your body and is essential when it comes to balanced nutrition. It builds red blood cells, carries oxygen from your lungs to other parts of your body, and helps your brain work.
Why do girls need more?
All teenagers need iron. However, because of menstruation, girls lose iron. The recommendation is 15 mg of iron each day.
A lack of iron may cause you to look pale, feel tired, have difficulty studying, feel irritable, and generally not have enough energy to do the things you want to do.
Good sources of iron include beef, lamb, pork, liver, veal, turkey, chicken, fish, and seafood. Secondary sources of iron include fortified grains, lentil and beans, seeds and nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, and eggs (these are secondary sources because the iron is not absorbed as well as in the other foods). Add foods rich in vitamin C to help your body absorb iron too.
Drinking tea or coffee with your meals hinders the absorption of iron. Best to have a different beverage with your meals.
If your teen answers “Yes” to two or more of these questions, they may not be getting enough iron:
- Are you female?
- Are you trying to lose weight?
- Do you skip meals often?
- Do you avoid red meat?
- Do you drink tea, coffee, cola, or other beverages with caffeine with your meals?
- Do you have have menstrual periods?
More isn’t always better
While some teens may need an iron supplement if they can’t get enough iron in their diet, you want to be sure that they do not get too much iron as that can be harmful to their health.
If in doubt, check with your doctor.