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Teenagers: Vitamins & Mineral Needs

Adolescents need plenty of vitamins and minerals during their growth spurt. For girls, this generally occurs around 10 to 11 years of age, while for boys it occurs later, at around 12 to 13 years. Nutritional and energy needs at this time are greater than at any other time of life, except during pregnancy and breast feeding.

As an adolescent goes through physical and biochemical changes, there is an increased need for certain vitamins. The following vitamins play significant roles:

Throughout adolescence, the occurrence of inadequate diets is higher than in any other stage of development. The following has been found in relation to teenagers nutrient intake.

Supplements for adolescents

Adolescence is a time of increased vitamin and mineral need and it is also a time when adolescents are prone to developing poor eating habits. It is recommended that in addition to tyring to eat a healthy diet that teenagers take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. The supplement should contain at least the following:

Contents Per 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 - 25mg
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

Adolescents are becoming more independent and making many food decisions on their own. Adolescents tend to eat more meals away from home than younger children. They are also heavily influenced by their peers.

Meal convenience is important to many adolescents and they may be eating too much of the wrong types of food (such as, soft drinks, fast-food and processed foods).

Further, a common concern of many adolescents is dieting. Girls may feel pressure from peers to be thin and to limit what they eat. Both boys and girls may diet to 'make weight' and 'look good' for a particular sporting or social event. So we need to try to encourage a healthy weight, making food choices that are healthy and being involved in some physical activity each day.

The following are some tips to help adolescents develop healthy eating habits:

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Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Elliot, N. 2004, Green Peace. Practical Parenting.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog 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. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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During adolescence highly nutritious food is crucial for biological and intellectual development. Failure to consume an adequate diet at this time can disrupt normal growth and pubertal development.