Iron to the rescue
Teenage girls who are having trouble with their schoolwork, are irritable or constantly tired, may find that iron deficiency is their problem. According to Dr Tony Helman, Chairman of the Australian Iron Advisory Panel, iron deficiency is found in I in 9 teenage girls in Australia.
A recent study in the Lancet of 76 teenage girls found that those who took iron supplements for eight weeks did significantly better on verbal and memory tests than the group that took the placebo. The researchers concluded that even in the absence of anaemia, iron deficiency might impair learning in adolescent females.
Dr Helman says 'teenage girls are particularly prone to iron deficiency because they are losing iron rich blood through menstruation, they are growing fast, and they often don't eat enough food rich in iron. Parents should think about the possibilities of iron deficiency if their teenage daughters are having difficulties with their schoolwork, complain of tiredness, are eating poor meals or are having heavy periods."
"Red meat, chicken and fish are all good sources of iron, with red meat being the richest source," said Dr Helman. "Breads, cereals, vegetables, nuts and eggs contain iron in a less available form but absorption can be boosted by combining them with vitamin C-rich foods such as broccoli or orange juice" Iron is important in other age groups too:
In infants, iron deficiency is associated with intellectual and psychomotor impairment such as poor eye-hand coordination. This may not always be completely reversed when iron status is corrected.
Iron deficiency in adults can lead to an inability to concentrate, which in turn can hinder verbal learning, memory, mood and energy levels. Tiredness and irritability are both symptoms of iron deficiency.
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