Iron plays a pivotal role in meeting the dietary needs of young girls, especially during the crucial phase of adolescence. This period is marked by rapid growth and development, making sufficient iron intake of paramount importance. According to Mr. Subhadeep Dasgupta, Business Head at Gritzo, “Iron’s diverse functions also encompass supporting growth, muscle development, and the maturation of vital organs during this pivotal life stage.”
“Iron contributes to sustaining energy levels, cognitive function, and a robust immune system, all vital components for young girls as they venture into new environments and social settings.”
“The commencement of menstruation amplifies the significance of meeting their increased iron needs. Monthly blood losses necessitate the prioritization of iron-rich foods, including lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes, and fortified cereals. Combining these dietary choices with sources of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and leafy greens, is essential as it enhances iron absorption,” Mr. Subhadeep further highlights.
In an interview with Zee News English, Dr Vijay Ramanan, Sr. Consultant Clinical Haematologist, Director Clinical Hematology, Bone Marrow & Stem Cell Transplant, Ruby Hall Clinic Pune says, “It’s important for young girls to consume iron-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, fortified cereals, and dark leafy greens usually cooked in iron utensils. Additionally, pairing these foods with sources of vitamin C can enhance iron absorption.”
Importance of Iron in Diet
Dr Vijay shares why iron is significant in diet for young growing girls.
Preventing Iron-deficiency Anemia: Young girls entering puberty experience a surge shared by in their iron requirements due to menstruation, making the prevention of iron-deficiency anemia a top priority. Iron is indispensable for the production of hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. Anemia can lead to fatigue, weakness, and diminished concentration, negatively impacting their academic and daily activities.
Supporting Growth and Development: Iron plays a crucial role in cell growth and differentiation, which is vital for the growth spurt that characterizes adolescence. Ensuring an adequate iron intake supports the development of muscles, organs, and overall physical growth.
Cognitive Function: Proper brain function is reliant on iron. Inadequate iron intake can result in cognitive deficits, affecting memory, concentration, and learning abilities in young girls.
Immune System Support: Iron is an integral part of the immune system, defending the body against infections and illnesses.
Energy Production: Iron’s involvement in energy production is crucial for maintaining energy levels throughout daily activities and sports. Other concerns may include hair loss and cramps, which can impact self-esteem, and persistent headaches or migraines, which might be misinterpreted as feigned.
Treatment for Iron Deficiency
For effective treatment to rectify iron deficiency as shared by Dr Vijay- Sr. Consultant Clinical Haematologist, suggests:
1. Deworm with Albendazole, Ivermectin, or an appropriate deworming agent to address worm infestations.
2. Use iron supplementation with tablets, typically every alternate day to minimize the risk of constipation or diarrhea.
3. Opt for iron utensils in cooking and reduce the consumption of black coffee, tea, and betel nut.
4. Incorporate iron-rich foods like dark jaggery, green leafy vegetables, or liver into the diet to maintain healthy iron levels.