> Deficiency of iron: risks for adolescents, pregnant women


the risks for the adolescents, pregnant women, the girls in the diet and the elderly. The iron is an essential nutrient.

In our diet the red meat are the main source and is also present in the fatty fish, the dark meat of chicken and turkey, nuts, seeds, in the dried fruit, in the green vegetables in cereals-enriched breakfast.

The World Organisation of the Sanità, has estimated that 600-700 million people worldwide have iron deficiency, making this the più widespread nutritional problem, especially in developing countries.

While in some of these countries, blood loss (for example, caused by infections of Hookworms) can be the root cause of this deficiency, in western Europe, iron deficiency is usually the result of a daily diet with a low intake of this mineral.

The effects of an insufficient intake of iron are wide-ranging. Iron is essential for the proper functioning of haemoglobin (the red pigment in blood responsible for carrying oxygen to all the cells of the body.

The first symptoms of iron deficiency are tiredness and fatigue.

The women and adolescents who eat little meat, chicken and fish or become completely vegetarian most at risk of exhausting the reserves of iron and suffer the effects of this deficiency.

While it is estimated that approximately 8% of western women is deficient in iron, the Dr. Mike Nelson, a nutritionist at King’s College at London University, is convinced that 10-20% of adolescents are suffering from this deficiency.

Although these girls seem in good health, a low level of iron affects in a very negative way on some of the daily actions as the capacity to concentrate and, consequently, academic performance.

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“based On our tests – says Dr. Nelson – it turns out that the difference in iqs (intelligence quotient) among English girls, who get sufficient amount; of iron, and those with anaemia manifests itself in a point of separation in school exams”.

“The girls are dieting and those who are becoming vegetarian are especially at risk,” continues Dr. Nelson: “The neo-vegetarians need to be careful especially during the first year, perché often eliminate meat from the diet without knowing with what types of food can introduce the iron. Women and girls are on a diet or vegetarian should take into consideration the fact of having to take fortified foods or iron supplements”.

it is now established that iron deficiency reduces the functionalityà of the brain, impairing memory and the capacity of learning. It may therefore be very important to increase the intake of iron for all the people, the più young people as adults, who are at risk of not introducing enough through diet.

è only the brain to suffer from deficiencies in iron, pregnant women and the elderly should be careful.

If during pregnancy the reserves are low, additional demand for iron due to rapid growth of the child during the last six months of gestation, may determine a state of deficiency can potentially slow the growth of brain of the child.

a deficiency in elderly people può be determined both by poor diets from both a reduced capacity of absorption of iron from the digestive canal.

Whatever the age or the sex, iron deficiency, in the long run, determines a lowering of the pain threshold, interfere in the mechanism that controls body temperature, increase hair fall and lessens the efficiency of the immune system, making it more vulnerable to infections.

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it is therefore evident that there are many reasons for which one must have an eye on the quantityà of iron the assumption on a daily basis.

How to find out iron deficiency

Feel constantly tired and being pale could be symptoms of a diet poor in iron and of a state of deficiency.

To determine the causes of these symptoms, the doctor should prescribe blood tests to assess the level of hemoglobin.

Hoà così diagnose the risk of deficiency of iron or even anemia, overt.

The main foods are useful to increase the intake of iron

Apporto di ferro

Carmichael magra
150 came

Fagioli cotti
200 where

Sardine in scatola
100 where

cera is located per la prima colazione (controllare la tabella in etichetta)
30-45 came

Fichi secchi

Carmichael scura di tacchino
120 where

Semi di sesamo
20 came

Verdura fresca cottage
90 came

The absorption of iron

our body absorbs about 25% of the iron contained in meat, fish and poultry. The absorption of iron from cereals, vegetables, fruits is considerably lower, but increases if they are taken together:

  • Vitamin C present in citrus, grapes, kiwi, peppers and potatoes
  • Fructose content in fruits and juices
  • Protein, meat and fish

The absorption of iron is low when taken in conjunction with the following foods, that you should not try to eat along with iron-rich foods:

  • Eggs
  • Crusca

English version

EUFIC – European Food Information Council



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Page modified February 2013