Published: 08/30/2018 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Adolescents’ diets need to have special care taken for them, specially about Iron. Several changes take place during this stage of life, and they require a certain dosage of high quality minerals, proteins, and vitamins. This is the time when the muscles, bones, organs, and systems are maturing towards the structure they will have for the rest of their lives. A lot of times, adolescents begin to loose sight of dietary importance at this age. The adolescent begins to eat out with friends and in school, and if they haven’t been raised in an appropriate nutritious environment, the can opt for foods that simply fill their bellies, or satisfy their hunger, when their parents aren’t around. They may begin to eat refined breads, soda, french fries, nachos, etc. These foods do not carry the essential nutrients they need, and only satiate in that moment. Later on, this could cause unfavorable consequences in health, moods, and well-being, in a general sense.
It is important to make them realize the importance of what they eat, and to try to ensure that when they eat at home, they are eating foods that truly nourish them. Get them excited about drinking fresh vegetable juices, and eating not only to satisfy their hunger.
Iron and adolescence
All nutrients are important in an adolescent’s diet. Iron, for example, is an indispensable mineral. The human body contains approximately 3 to 4 grams of this important element, which is required for several bodily functions:
- Helps form muscle proteins.
- Stimulates red blood cell production and helps form healthy and strong bones.
- Helps transport oxygen throughout the body through hemoglobin (red pigment in the blood), which carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues.
- Is a constituent in a large amount of enzymes. Present in the liver, and is an important source during the first months of pregnancy and life.
Menstruation and iron
Keep in mind that during adolescence a lot of young girls being their period. Every month they loose considerable amounts of iron, that should be replenished as quickly as possible, so that the rest of the body doesn’t feel any sort of deficiency.
It is important to take a look at the amount of iron in an adolescent’s diet. When the dosage is appropriate, they will have good physical performance, good moods, and positive intellectual results. During adolescence, one should consume between 11.3 and 14.8 mg/day.
Which foods have iron?
Dried fruits, whole grains (including whole-grain bread, but not industrial), leafy green vegetables, seeds, and legumes. Iron can also be found in soy flour, lentils, black beans, parsley, whole-grain rice, molasses, honey, etc.
Keep in mind also that the hormonal and physical changes during adolescence frequently begin to spark all sorts of emotions: confusion, depression, constant anger, etc. Even though you might not believe it, diet plays a huge basic role in emotional health, which is why you must consider this as a starting point to emotional understanding.
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