Teens don’t forget the ‘Iron Ladies’

Research has shown that just over half of UK teenage girls were not getting enough iron. Women need almost one and a half times the daily iron in their diets that men need.

Research has shown that just over half of UK teenage girls were not getting enough iron. Women need almost one and a half times the daily iron in their diets that men need.

By Cara Cunningham, Community Dietitian

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Iron is needed by the blood to help it transport oxygen around the body. Signs that your body may not have enough iron include feeling very tired, being irritable, having poor concentration, dizziness or fainting. Not a good recipe for busy teens So how can you make sure that the young adults are getting enough iron in the food they are eating?

It’s not just the quantity with iron but also about the quality of the iron you are eating. This is because our food contains two types of iron:

Haem Iron: which is the best quality iron, this is because it is very easy for our body’s to absorb it; this is the type of iron found in meat especially red meats.

Non-Haem Iron: found in vegetables, cereals, fruit and nuts; although these foods can contain iron, your body finds it more difficult to absorb this type of iron. By taking these foods with Vitamin C (glass of fruit juice will do the trick), and by taking these foods with some red meat, you can also maximise the amount of iron absorbed from them.

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It is recommended to include some of the top quality iron rich foods (red meat e.g. beef, port or lamb) in your diet at least 3-4 times per week. And also be clever to combine your foods so that you get the most iron out of your diet.

Tasty ways to increase your iron intake include:

Put a slice of lean beef, pork or lamb with a salad into pitta bread – the meat will not only add iron to the snack but will help to increase your absorption of iron from both salad and bread

Take fruit juice with your breakfast cereal, the vitamin C in the fruit juice will maximise the absorption of iron from the cereal

Add a few slices of black pudding to your toast for a different iron rich breakfast

Pâté on wholemeal bread is a tasty iron rich snack

So maximise iron at every meal – this will mean you, or your loved one, should feel more alert and ready for action! For recipes and suggestions see www.bordbia.ie, for more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact:

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The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044) 9353220 or email community.dietitians@hse.ie.