Boys and girls ages 9 to 13 need an average of 8 milligrams of iron daily, while girls ages 14 and older need 15 milligrams a day and older boys need 11 milligrams, according to the Baylor School of Medicine. Iron is the mineral that helps teens build red blood cells -- the cells that carry oxygen throughout the body, creating energy. Healthy eating is a teen's best source of iron. Luckily, a variety of iron-rich foods are available for snacking.
Dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and raisins are packed full of iron, and they're easy to grab on the run. Teens can dry their own fruit by slicing them into one-quarter inch slices and heating them in a 120 degree Fahrenheit oven with the door slightly ajar. Drying your fruit fresh eliminates the preservatives usually found in store-bought varieties. It also saves money. Mix dried fruits with assorted nuts and granola for an iron- and protein-packed snack.
Beans are an effective source of iron and can be mixed up in salads or frozen in burritos for a quick snack. White bean and artichoke salad, such as the one at All Recipes (see Resources), packs a double punch of iron, and it's easy to make using cold beans and fresh ingredients, such as onion, peppers and black olives. Burritos can be made fresh or found in the frozen foods section. Typically, the main ingredient in a burrito is refried beans, which is high in iron and protein.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Add fresh baby spinach or Swiss chard to sandwiches and salads for a quick iron boost. Collard greens, though typically served cooked, can also be used raw as a wrap or chopped up in a salad for a quick, nutritious snack. For teens following a vegan diet, the Raw Vegan Collard Wrap (link in Resources) at Avocado Pesto is a quick and easy alternative to grabbing a greasy burger.
Most nuts and seeds such as cashews, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin and squash are a quick and tasty source of iron. You can easily work seeds and nuts into your teen's diet by tossing them in salads, sprinkling them on sandwiches or by making trail mixes for the road. Bake them into muffins and brownies or buy almond milk and ground almond flour instead of your usual brands.