Eating Nails for Breakfast – Is There Really Iron in Your Cereal?
What kind of cereal do you eat in the morning? Are you a Fruit Loops kind of person or more serious, like a Total cereal eater? Whatever you eat, turn the box to the side and look at the ingredients. If your cereal is “iron fortified” what does that mean? Is there really iron in your flakes?
Here’s an easy way to test for iron – take a bowl and pour a little water in it. Float a few flakes on the water. Then take a powerful magnet, like a Neodymium Magnet and without touching the flakes, try to make them move and follow the magnet through the water.
That proves the magnet is having an effect on the flakes, but is it really iron that is causing the attraction?
In this next experiment, take a plastic zipper bag like a Zip-loc and put a handful of flakes inside. Pour water in to completely soak the flakes. Then shake and mix the solution until the flakes have dissolved and you have a soupy mixture. Place your Neodymium magnet in the palm of your hand and place the bag of cereal mixture on top. Slosh the bag around so that the magnet has a chance to touch all of the solution. Next, turn your hand over and carefully remove the magnet from the bag. A small droplet of iron should be collected under the magnet.
General Mills has been fortifying its cereals with iron for 25 years.
Metallic iron is digested in the stomach and eventually absorbed in the small intestine. If all of the iron from your body were extracted, you’d have enough iron to make only two small nails. You are truly eating nails for breakfast.
For the science behind this and complete step-by-step instructions, visit the Eating Nails for Breakfast experiment page.