If not enough nutrients are consumed during adolescence, one of the biggest problems that can occur is that growth can actually be stunted. In addition, teens who do not get enough vitamins and nutrients may deal with fatigue, hair that is thin and breaks easily, and may be more susceptible to becoming ill.
The key to getting enough vitamins and nutrients in the body is to maintain a well balanced diet. As long as you are eating a well-balanced diet with foods from the various foods groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy and meats/beans – and a small amount of oils from fish, nuts, and liquid oils like corn, soybean, and canola oil), vitamin supplements are not always necessary. A good diet should provide all of the vitamins needed for healthy growth.
Remember that part of a good diet includes drinking plenty of water every day. An adequate amount of water can be determined by dividing your weight, in kilograms, by 30 to determine the amount in liters that you should consume a day OR a good guideline is to drink 8 8ounce glasses of water per day.
Here is a guide to the amount of calcium, iron, and protein you should be consuming every day:
· CALCIUM: Adolescents require between 1,200 and 1,500mg/day. Foods high in calcium include dairy products, fortified juices, broccoli, shrimp and spinach. There are some things that actually interfere with calcium absorption – these include soda, alcohol, cigarette smoking and low estrogen levels (absent periods).
· IRON: Females, 11-24yo, need 15-18mg/day and males, 11-18yo, need 12mg/day. Foods high in Iron include meats, refried beans, spinach and most cereals.
· PROTEIN: The requirement is 0.8-1.5g/kg of body weight per day. Foods high in protein include meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy products, grains, breads, beans and peanut butter.
If you are concerned about whether or not you are getting all of the vitamins you need, or if vitamin supplements are something you would benefit from, FX suggests you speak to your primary care physician, adolescent medicine specialist, or a registered dietician. A doctor or dietician can review what types of foods you are eating day-to-day and determine whether or not you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need from these foods, and whether or not you should be taking additional vitamins.
If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.