Teens Need Iron

pregnant mother and young boy preparing fruit for a smoothie

By Rhianna Ross, RHN

Is your teenager getting enough iron? Puberty is a time of rapid development and increased iron needs.

Iron is an essential mineral that helps the body produce hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in the blood to tissues. Hemoglobin gives blood its red color and enables the cells to function properly. Without enough iron, the body cannot make enough hemoglobin, and this leads to iron deficiency anemia.

Before anemia, iron deficiency occurs when the body’s iron stores (ferritin) start to drop below normal levels.

What Causes Deficiency?

Iron deficiency is the most common type of nutrient deficiency and affects many people, especially teenagers. Teenagers are at a higher risk of developing iron deficiency because they are going through rapid growth and development. The gain of muscle mass and expansion of blood volume increases their need for iron. This is especially true for teen girls who have started menstruating.

There are several reasons why teens are at an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia:

  • Rapid growth: During adolescence, the body grows faster and needs more iron to produce new blood cells and muscles. If the dietary intake of iron is not sufficient to meet the increased demand, iron deficiency can develop.
  • Menstruation: Girls who have heavy or prolonged menstrual periods can lose a lot of blood and iron every month. This can deplete the iron stores in the body and lead to iron deficiency anemia.
  • Poor diet: Teens may not eat a balanced diet that includes enough iron-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, leafy green vegetables, and fortified cereals. They may also consume foods or drinks that interfere with iron absorption, such as tea, coffee, milk, or calcium supplements.

 

  • Vegetarianism: Teens who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may not get enough iron from plant sources, which are less bioavailable than animal sources. Teens may need to take iron supplements or eat foods that are fortified with iron, such as soy products, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
  • Exercise: Teens who are physically active or participate in sports may have higher iron requirements than sedentary teens. They may also lose iron through sweating or minor injuries. They should eat more iron-rich foods or take iron supplements if they are at risk of iron deficiency anemia.

Signs and Symptoms

Iron deficiency anemia can affect the health and well-being of teens in many ways. It can impair their physical performance, cognitive function, mood, and immune system. It can also increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth in girls who become pregnant. Therefore, it is important for teens to prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia by eating a balanced diet that includes enough iron-rich foods, taking iron supplements, and getting regular blood tests to check their iron levels.

Some of the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia in teenagers are:

  • Extreme fatigue and weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Slowed growth and development
  • Difficulty with learning and memory
  • Poor appetite
  • Abnormally rapid breathing
  • Behavioural problems
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Frequent infections
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, paint, or starch

Have Your Teen Tested

If you or your teenager experience any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor for a blood test to check your iron levels. Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia can be diagnosed by measuring the amount of hemoglobin and ferritin (a protein that stores iron) in the blood. Low ferritin and normal hemoglobin are classified as an iron deficiency, while iron deficiency anemia is diagnosed when both hemoglobin and ferritin levels are low.

 Daily Iron Requirements

To prevent iron deficiency, iron supplement should provide the following dose:

  • Children 7 months to 13 years – 10 mg elemental iron daily
  • Girls 14 to 18 years – 15 mg elemental iron daily
  • Boys 14 to 18 years – 10 mg elemental iron daily
  • Pregnant women – 30 mg elemental iron daily

For children diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, consult a health care practitioner about a therapeutic dose to treat iron deficiency.

Addressing an Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency and anemia require a therapeutic supplement dose, which your doctor will outline for you and will need to be taken daily until your iron levels return to normal. You should also eat more iron-rich foods and foods that enhance iron absorption, such as vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.

Iron deficiency anemia can affect the health and well-being of teens in many ways. It can impair their physical performance, cognitive function, mood, and immune system. It can also increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth in girls who become pregnant. Therefore, it is important for teens to prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia by eating a balanced diet that includes eating enough iron-rich foods, taking iron supplements, and getting regular blood tests to check their iron levels.

KidStar® BioFe® Iron

KidStar® BioFe® is gentle and will not upset sensitive stomachs or stain teeth like common iron supplements. BioFe+ Iron Liquid is safe for the whole family, from infancy to adulthood.

The iron in BioFe is micronized and microencapsulated, protecting you from the side effects of iron, like constipation, tummy upset, and grey teeth. Microencapsulation also allows BioFe iron to be taken at the same time as foods and nutrients containing calcium.

Like all KidStar nutrients, our iron supplements do not contain sugar, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavours, soy, gluten and GMOs. KidStar BioFe Iron is available in a tasty liquid, unflavoured liquid drops and a tiny chewable tablet.

Find iron products here

 

Gentle, unflavoured, pure iron drops in an MCT base.

BioFe® Pure Iron Drops

$27.99

(5 customer reviews)

 

Iron for the Family Bundle

Iron for the Family Bundle

$67.97

(Save 15%)

 

Gentle, delicious, iron liquid formula for toddlers, children, and older.

BioFe+® Iron Liquid

$32.99

(4 customer reviews)
cartoon image of Rhianna Ross

About the Author

Rhianna Ross, R.H.N., is a registered holistic nutritionist based in Vancouver, BC. Rhianna has more than a decade of experience in the natural health and wellness industry, and currently works at KidStar Nutrients, where she enjoys reviewing and analyzing the latest nutritional research papers, meta-analyses, and journal articles.