Iron is an important mineral in our day to day diets, not only for adults but also for children because if they have an iron deficiency, they may not have energy to play, study and achieve their best at school. A child with an iron deficiency may develop anaemia and this will lead him/her to be in a weak, tired and unmotivated state: Something which a nap will not solve.
According to the World Health Organization, between 600 and 700 million people suffer from an iron deficiency. This gap not only affects children or young students, but also to pregnant women and the elderly.
Effects on the brain
Schoolchildren and student’s brains can be affected by a lack of iron and it will manifest as a lack of concentration and poor memory and retention of school lessons. It is for this reason that a student cannot have demands of better grades imposed on him/her if he/she does not have a good daily intake of this mineral.
The difference is vast between those who consume a good daily dose of iron compared with those who do not. According to an intelligence test developed by the nutritionist Mike Nelson of King’s College, University of London, the IQ of young British people with a larger daily intake of iron resulted much higher than those of their anemic peers in several clear areas in the assessments.
If your child is anaemic, certain subjects such as mathematics, communication and languages will be more difficult to learn. The same will happen in the field of sport and physical education as he or she will not have the strength, vitality and energy to do the exercises.
How to identify an iron deficiency
If you are concerned that your child is getting low grades and fear that it may be due to an iron deficiency, here are some common symptoms you should look out for:
– Pale skin
– Shortness of breath
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your child, you must take him/her to the doctor as soon as possible in order to carry out the respective assessments of blood and to measure the level of hemoglobin in his/her blood, therefore enabling you to rule out the presence of anaemia.
Benefits of Iron
When we consume iron, it acts allowing the hemoglobin in the blood to supply oxygen to all cells in the body. In this way we can go about our daily activities normally. Parents should be alert, especially regarding their daughters who, through the process of menstruation, lose blood and iron; It is why they especially should consume foods rich in this mineral.
How much should we consume?
On average, boys of 10-14 years should consume between 12 and 15 milligrams of iron a day, while girls need about 18mg. However, we assimilate or absorb more iron from animals than plants, so it is important to increase the consumption of meat, especially when there is an iron deficit.
It is also advisable to eat foods rich in Vitamin C, preferably citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit and tangerines among others, as they help to absorb iron into our body and blood stream.
Foods high in Iron
The following is a list of foods with a high iron content and should be included in your son or daughter’s daily diet where possible if they are of school age in order to prevent them from developing an iron deficiency which may impede on his/her academic development and achievement.
150g lean beef = 6mg of Iron
200g butter beans/white beans = 5mg of Iron
Cereals 30-45g = 4mg of Iron
4 dried fig = 3mg of Iron
120g Turkey thighs and wings = 2mg of Iron
20g sesame seeds = 2mg of Iron
90g steamed cabbage = 1mg of Iron
In Peru, there is an extremely iron-rich meal which is a lentil stew accompanied with chicken and rice:
To prepare this dish, first boil the lentils, having washed them first. Simultaneously, heat a pot of water. When the lentils begin to boil, drain away the water and return them to the hob, heating them with the other pot of previously boiled water. In addition, make a garlic dressing with onion, red chili pepper and cubed chicken. This last preparation should be mixed with the lentils and boiled together until everything is cooked. Season with salt to taste and serve with a dollop of rice and salad. This dish can be accompanied with a delicious home-made lemonade, rich in vitamin C, which will help the iron to be completely absorbed into the body.
500g of beef or veal liver
2 onions chopped into small bits
1 tomato cut into long strips
1 cup of dry white wine or white wine vinegar
Two cloves of crushed garlic
Salt, pepper and cumin
Macerate or marinade the liver with the wine, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic for a few hours or even the night before. After the liver has been marinated, proceed to fry it in hot oil and season with chili to taste. Later add the onion, what is left of the wine, some salt to taste and then the tomato when the liver is cooked. You can serve with roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes.