The theme of today’s programme is a bit different from usual, because it focuses on the importance of recent developments in the chemistry in our life using breakfast cereals to show how it is so close to us. Sometimes, in the smallest and most unusual details.
We know that iron, one of the most abundant chemical elements on Earth, is essential to life and its deficiency can cause anemia, fatigue, loss of appetite, dizziness, growth problems, and many other health problems.
The World Health Organization recommends the intake of about 15 mg of iron per day. Of course, this does not mean eating nails or screws, but eating foods rich in iron ions – the way this element appears in living organisms.
But although no-one would consider eating pieces of iron to improve their diet, the truth is that many do it without even knowing, and for breakfast! In fact, manufacturers produce breakfast cereals high in iron, by adding tiny bits of metallic iron. Yes, it’s true: cereals with a pinch of iron filings, delicious!
If you want to check this at home, you just have to grind some cereal flakes in a little water and run a magnet over the paste. After some time, the magnet is covered with small particles of iron that were added to the cereals.
But don’t be scared, because chemists have long known that the small pieces of metal are literally dissolved in the acidic environment of the stomach through a chemical redox reaction, which converts iron into a form usable by the body – the iron ions…
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