: Teens and Pre-Teens Need Adequate Iron
Growing adolescents need a diet rich in iron,
according to Hans-Juergen Nentwich, an executive board member of
Germany's Professional Association of Children's and Young People's
Physicians. "Pale skin, fatigue, a poor appetite, brittle fingernails
and hair, cracked skin in the corners of the mouth and chapped lips
can be signs of a deficiency," he warned.
Various metabolic processes in the body depend on iron, which is
important for blood formation and oxygen supply to the organs. In
boys, muscle mass and blood volume increase greatly in a short period
of time. Girls lose iron during menstruation.
"A children's and young people's physician can detect an iron
deficiency with a blood test," Nentwich said. "A dietary change and,
if needed, dietary supplements can them help to restore the body's
iron reserves." Foods containing iron include meat, leafy green
vegetables, red beets, garden cress, fish, eggs, whole grain
products, legumes and nuts.
"An iron deficiency also makes people more susceptible to
infections," noted Nentwich, who said it could impair brain function
as well. According to a study, an iron deficiency in one's teen years
could negatively affect brain structure in the long term. A
deficiency impairs formation of myelin, an electrically insulating
material that sheathes nerve fibres and increases the speed of
impulses between nerve cells in the brain.
Adolescents who are vegetarians, have an unbalanced diet
(primarily fast food or dairy products, for example), are very active
in sports or suffer from chronic inflammatory bowel disease are at
higher risk of iron deficiency. Food intolerances - such as to gluten
-- or a congenital iron absorption disorder also increase the risk.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)