Iron requirements are higher for teenagers and children than adults because the body is growing. The body needs iron to make haemoglobin in the red blood cells, which are needed to transport oxygen around the body. Teenage girls have a higher requirement than boys to replace the iron their body loses each month. If iron intake is too low, this can result in feeling tired, irritable, looking pale and experiencing shortness of breath. This deficiency is known as anaemia, but can be easily treated by a change in diet. Your child should eat 2-3 portions of lean red meat every week as it’s the best source of iron. If your child is a vegetarian you need to make more of an effort to make sure they are getting enough iron.
Check out the table below:
Best sources of iron
Other sources of iron
Lean red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
Chicken and turkey
Pulses, e.g. beans, peas, lentils
Dried fruit, e.g. raisins
Dark green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach
Fortified breakfast cereals
Tips to get more iron in your diet
Breakfast time
• Iron-fortified breakfast cereal with semi-skimmed milk that is fortified with vitamins and minerals.
• Try a small glass of orange or grapefruit juice or a smoothie with either of the above. The vitamin C in the juice helps to absorb iron.
Lunch time
• Wholegrain bread with chicken and cucumber.
Dinner time
• Beef and vegetable stir-fry with spring greens, cashew nuts and wild rice.
• Grilled home-made beef burger in a wholegrain bap with side salad



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