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Memory and Potato Chips

It's tough being an adolescent. Not only do teens experience sudden emotional and psychological changes with which they must cope, but their bodies undergo massive external and internal changes commonly known as puberty.

Just when they particularly need to be careful about getting enough vitamins and minerals to stay healthy during this physically demanding time, teens often start skipping meals and eating junk food.

The vitamin situation is even more problematic for teenage girls, because of menstruation. This regular loss of blood carries away from a girl's body a significant amount of vitamins that they are especially important to her body.

In particular, iron is lost quickly through menstrual flow, and if it is not replenished by means of a healthy diet, a girl's energy, memory and attention-span can be adversely affected.

The deleterious effects of iron loss were recently studied by pediatrician Ann Bruner at the Johns Hopkins Center in Baltimore. Bruner administered a verbal test to a group of teenage girls with moderately low blood-iron levels, recording how well they were able to recall a series of words. Next, a random sampling of the girls were given iron-supplement pills to take for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks the girls were all given the test again. Sure enough, the iron-supplemented girls were better able to recall the words this time than those girls who had only been given a placebo.

What's the best strategy, then, for keeping your own teenager mentally fit? Trade in the potato chips for iron-rich foods, such as spinach, raisins or wheat germ.

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