Iron Does a Teenage Body Good

Feeling tired all the time? Getting enough sleep? Skipping breakfast? You may not be getting enough iron. Your body’s need for iron changes as you grow into your teenage years.

Teenage boys need more iron because they’re growing so fast. Teen girls need increased iron to replace the blood lost during monthly menstrual cycles.

Iron has an important job to do. It aids red blood cells’ ability to carry and circulate oxygen throughout your body. That oxygen is what you need for energy. So if you’re not getting iron first thing in the morning from an iron-rich breakfast, and you’re not getting it through the foods you eat during the day, you probably are feeling tired.

How Much Iron Do You Need?

Until the age of 13, boys and girls should be getting about 8 mg a day of iron. After that, teen boys should be getting about 11 mg and girls about 15 mg.

The great thing is that it’s not hard to get lots of iron through the foods you eat:

  • Lean beef
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, collards, and kale
  • Enriched and whole-grain breads
  • Nuts
  • Black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and other cooked dried beans
  • Rice
  • Iron-fortified cereals

What about Iron Supplements?

It’s best to get your iron through the foods you eat, but if you take supplements, don’t overdo it. You can actually overdose on iron supplements. Iron poisoning can lead to symptoms of nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a sense of being really tired. This usually only happens if someone takes several pills at once. Still, it’s best to get your iron naturally, through your diet, unless your doctor prescribes supplements for you.