Teenage is the age of transition from childhood to adult. A very high percentage of growth found in this age. Physical, psychological and hormonal changes take place in these crucial ages. You should take care of nutritional needs for your teenagers to meet their requirements. If it is not considered properly, the natural growth of your teens may be effected. Everything you will get in this post that you want to know about nutritional needs of teenagers.
Table of Contents
What is nutrition?
Nutrition is the science of consuming and utilizing foods in order to proper growth, reproduction, health & related disease and maintenance of the body. It tells about the nutrients required in the body and the source from where you can get it. Nutrition of teenagers is very important because it is construction phase of the human body. If it is ignored, its effect can be reflected in lifelong.
Our body requires 7 major types of nutrients – Carbohydrate, Protein, Fat, Vitamins, Minerals, fiber and water. Nutrients are the source of nourishment of your body.
These are grouped into two parts – Macronutrients and Micronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients we need in relatively large quantities and Micronutrients are the nutrients we need in relatively small quantities.
Macronutrients are further grouped in two categories – First, those who provides energy to our body and second, don’t provide energy but necessary for your body.
Carbohydrate, Protein and Fats are belong to first group of Macronutrient – who provides energy and
Fiber and Water are belong to second group of Macronutrient – who don’t provide energy but are necessary for your body.
Minerals and Vitamins are micronutrients.
Minerals required for our body are – Potassium, Chloride, Sodium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Iodine, Selenium and Molybdenum.
Vitamins are classified in two parts – Water soluble and Fat soluble.
Water-soluble vitamins are not easily stored and eliminated faster, so it is required to take more frequently. Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 and vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitamins are accumulated in the body and don’t eliminate faster. Vitamin-A, D, E and K come under this group.
Why it is important for teenagers?
The rapid growth in teenagers necessitates more nutritional care for their natural optimum development. Deficiency of nutrition in teens reflects even in later ages of life. I might be hard to recover in older ages.
Nutrients work in the following ways for development of our body:
Carbohydrate is one of the three macronutrients of your diet. The primary function of carbohydrate is to provide energy to your body. During the process of cellular respiration, your cells convert carbohydrates into the fuel molecule ATP. Bread, pasta, beans, potatoes, bran, rice, and cereals are major carbohydrate-rich foods. One gram of carbohydrate contains approximately 4 kilo calories (.).
The United States (U.S.) Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020 recommend obtaining 45 to 65 percent of energy needs from carbohydrates. A maximum of 10 percent should come from simple carbohydrates that include white bread, sugars, and candies.
Complex carbohydrates are considered more healthful, as they contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Good source of carbohydrate: Quinoa, oats, buckwheat, banana, sweet potato, beetroot, orange, blueberry, grapefruit, apple, kidney beans, chickpeas etc.
Protein is the next one of the three macronutrients of your diet.
It helps repair and build your body’s tissues, allows metabolic reactions to take place and coordinates bodily functions. Fibrous proteins provide various parts of your body with structure, strength and elasticity. Proteins also maintain proper pH and fluid balance. They keep your immune system strong, transport and store nutrients and can act as an energy source.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 g per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day. But it is minimum quantity. Teenagers who are physically active and take parts in sports should take 1.0 to 1.6 gram per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day.
Good source of protein: Egg, almond, chicken breast, oats, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, milk, broccoli, tuna, quinoa, lentils, pumpkin seed, turkey breast, fish, shrimp, peanut etc.
There are three types of fat. Saturated fat, Trans fat and Unsaturated fats. Saturated fats and trans fats are bad fats that raise bad blood cholesterol in your body. While unsaturated fats are good fats and lower bad cholesterol in your body. Unsaturated fats are of two types- Monounsaturated fats and Polyunsaturated fats.
Fat is a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and supports their absorption in the intestine. There are 9 essential amino acids found in fatty foods, that are necessary for your body but our body can’t produce it. You have to take these amino acids through foods.
The main function of fats in the body is to provide energy: By supplying energy, fats save proteins from being used for energy and allow them to perform their more important role of building and repairing tissues.
Fats also help in forming structural material of cells and tissues such as the cell membrane. Fat provides 9 calories of energy per gram.
Good source of fat: Lean meat, fatty fish, egg, avocado, cheese, nuts, chia seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, full-fat yogurt etc.
Iron is responsible for oxygen supply to muscles, proper brain functioning and developing immune system for fighting diseases. Deficiency of iron can lead to anemia and fatigue.
A teenage boy requires 12 mg of iron, but a teenage girl requires at least 15 mg iron to make up for menstrual losses. Foods like green leafy vegetables, whole grain, meat, nuts, etc, are enriched with iron.
Good source of iron: Shellfish, spinach, liver and other organ meat, legumes, red meat, pumpkin seed, quinoa, turkey, broccoli, tofu, dark chocolate etc.
Teenagers should get 1200 mg of calcium per day from the food they consume. Include calcium rich foods like dairy products, cereals, leafy vegetables, etc., in your teen’s diet.
Deficiency of calcium leads to weak bones and osteoporosis in later stages of life.
Good source of calcium: Poppy, sesame, celery, chia seeds, cheese, yogurt, sardine, canned salmon, beans, lentils, almond, whey protein, leafy greens, rhubarb, figs, milk etc.
Vitamin and Minerals
If your teens are getting a balance diet, they will get required dose of all the essential nutrients.
Vitamins and minerals are necessary for your teens to increase their immunity and protect them from various health conditions like anemia, night blindness, weakness and so on.
Most of the required vitamin and minerals your teens get from foods, however, in the case of deficiency, you are suggested to take advice from your doctor and give supplements to your teens.
Some very good sources of vitamins and minerals are milk, yogurt, cheese, liver, eggs, carrots, sweet potatoes, peaches, mangoes, papaya, and kiwi.
Other good sources of vitamins and minerals include strawberries, guava, spinach, salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and orange.
You can also add nuts, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, avocados, bananas, beans, and peas to your teen’s diet.
Calorie requirements for teenagers
Based on gender and level of activity, per day calorie requirements for teenagers are given below:
|GENDER||AGE||NOT ACTIVE||MODERATE ACTIVE||ACTIVE|
|14 - 18||1800||2100||2300|
|14 - 18||2300||2600||2900|
For calorie content of foods, click here. After clicking this link, you will get a downloadable link of calorie chart under second last.
Healthy foods meet the nutritional requirements
As suggested above, include healthy foods from each category in your teen’s diet. Dairy products, fruits, green vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds and cereals are good for your teens. Sufficient vitamins and minerals are available in these foods necessary for your teens. But if required, you should give them supplements to meet the requirements.
Calcium and iron are of great importance in the developing ages of teenagers. You should develop healthy eating culture in the family. It helps to grow habit in your teens to eat healthy foods.
It is advised to minimize junk foods and replace with healthy snacks.
If you have any question or suggestion related with this article, please feel free to leave your comments below. I would be happy to hear from you.