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Teenagers – Vitamin and Mineral Requirements
Teenagers need a lot of vitamins and minerals during their growth. For girls, this generally happens around age 10 to 11, while for boys it happens later, around age 12 to 13. Nutrient and energy needs at this time are greater than at any other time of life, except during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As an adolescent goes through physical and biochemical changes, there is an increased need for certain vitamins. The following vitamins play significant roles:
- Folic acid and vitamin B12 are necessary because tissue synthesis occurs rapidly.
- As caloric intake increases, the need for vitamin B1 (thaimin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B3 (niacin) also increases.
- Vitamin B6 and vitamin D are needed in higher amounts for tissue growth and skeletal growth.
- The complete structure and function of newly formed cells depends on the presence of vitamins A, C and E.
- There is a continuous need for calcium, magnesium and zinc so that the bones can increase their density.
During adolescence, the occurrence of inadequate diets is higher than at any other stage of development. The following was found in relation to the nutritional intake of an adolescent.
- Calcium, zinc and iron are often lower than the required amounts.
- Vitamin A and vitamin C were also found to be low.
- The intake of phosphorus can be high due to the amount of soft drinks consumed and this can have an adverse effect on the calcium balance in the body.
- There may be excessive consumption of high sugar and refined carbohydrate foods.
- In general, teens who skip meals, eat smaller amounts of food, and have fewer healthy snacks (such as fruit or yogurt) have the least appropriate diets.
Supplements for teenagers
Adolescence is a time of increased vitamin and mineral need and it is also a time when teenagers tend to develop bad eating habits. It is recommended that in addition to tiring to eat a healthy diet, that teenagers take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. The supplement should contain at least the following:
Content by Tablet
- Vitamin A 500 – 1,200I Us
- Vitamin B1 (thaimin) 2 – 10 mg
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 2 -1 0 mg
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 2 – 15 mg
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 10 – 25 mcg
- Vitamin C 25 – 150 mg
- Vitamin E d-Alpha 10 – 50 IUs
- Biotin 20-50 mcg
- Calcium pantothenate (B5) 30 – 60 mg
- Choline 5 – 15 mg
- Bioflavonoids 5 – 25 mg
- Folic acid 50-100 mcg
- Nicotinic acid 5-10 mg
- Nicotinamide 10-20 mg
- Beta-carotene 2-5 mg
- Iodine (from Kelp) 10 – 25 mcg
- Calcium (element) 50 – 150 mg
- Chromium 20 – 30 mcg
- Iron (element) 2 – 3 mg
- Magnesium (element) 20 – 60 mg
- Selenium (element) 10 – 25 mcg
- Zinc (element) 2 – 4 mg
What you can do to help
Teenagers are becoming more independent and making many food decisions on their own. Teenagers tend to eat more meals away from home than younger children. They are also strongly influenced by their peers.
Eating convenience is important to many teenagers and they may eat too much of the wrong types of food (such as soft drinks, fast food and processed foods).
Furthermore, a common concern of many teenagers is diet. Girls may feel peer pressure to be thin and limit what they eat. Both boys and girls may diet to “put on weight” and “look good” for a special sporting or social event. So we should try to encourage a healthy weight by making healthy food choices and participating in some physical activity every day.
The following are some tips to help teenagers develop healthy eating habits:
- Arrange for teenagers to learn about nutrition for themselves.
- Encourage and support their interest in health, cooking or nutrition.
- Take their suggestions, when possible, on foods to prepare at home.
- Experiment with foods outside of your own culture.
- Have several nutritious snack foods readily available. Sometimes, teenagers will eat whatever is convenient.
- If there are foods you don’t want your teen to eat, avoid bringing them into the home.
- Avoid buying high-calorie desserts or snacks, such as snacks, regular soft drinks, or regular ice cream.
- Provide a good model of healthy eating and living for your teen to follow.
- Discuss the following healthy recommendations with your teen to help ensure a healthy eating plan:
- Eat three meals a day, with healthy snacks.
- Eat plenty of fiber and limit the use of salt.
- Drink plenty of fresh filtered water.
- Try to avoid or at least limit caffeinated drinks and drinks with a high sugar content.
- When cooking, try steaming, baking (without added fats or oils) or roasting instead of frying.
- Try to avoid high sugar and refined carbohydrate foods.
- to eat fresh fruit or vegetables for a snack.
- Try to eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.
- Eat more chicken and fish than red meats.
The teenage years are a time of rapid growth and development. It is also a time when eating patterns and habits are often not as good as they could be. This puts teenagers at risk of developing one of the many nutrition-related health problems. Providing vitamin and mineral supplements is one measure that can be taken to help ensure that teenagers have the nutrition their bodies need.
Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.
Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. bread
Elliot, N. 2004, Green Peace. Practical Parenting.
Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Nature’s Health. Astrology Publication.
Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.
Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. Choice Book Publication.
Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Healthy Diet and Safe Supplementation. HarperCollins.
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