Are Teenagers’ Nutritional Needs Different From Adults?

If you have a teenager, you probably already know how difficult it is to ensure they get proper nutrition. They seem to be constantly on the go, often skipping meals and replacing them with snacks and junk food. It’s even harder when you consider that teens have different nutritional requirements than adults and even from those when they were young children. Their bodies are changing, and they require a balanced diet to ensure a healthy adulthood by providing the support necessary for a healthy growing body and cognitive development.

Teens are going through many changes, including puberty.

Teens undergo significant changes affecting both the body and cognitive functioning. Growth is taking place, which takes more energy. That means teens may need a diet higher in protein, vitamins, and minerals, besides the increase in calories to fuel their higher metabolism. Bone development requires calcium, vitamins K and D, and other changes require a diet higher in B12. Muscle development requires more protein.

Make sure your teen gets adequate omega-3 fatty acids.

Most people probably lack adequate omega-3 in their diet. That can lead to heart disease and a host of health issues. Studies show that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids can lead to ADHD, depression, asthma and increase the risk of diabetes for individuals already at high risk. Studies linking omega-3 fatty acids to mental health have shown that increasing omega-3 reduced the incidence of violent behavior, bipolar disorder, and depression. Adding fish to the diet once a week and having walnuts for snacks can boost the omega-3 in the diet.

Focus on whole foods, but make sure there’s adequate energy provided.

While you might need to stick with a lower-calorie diet, your teen might need to eat more. That’s because of metabolism and level of activity. Most teens are far more active than their parents. If they aren’t, find a way to encourage activity. Each child is unique, so what applies to one, doesn’t always apply to all. A teenage girl requires more iron than a teenage boy, for instance. Ensure they have more iron-rich food like spinach, broccoli, and poultry. Teens generally require more B vitamins for good health. These include folic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin for a functioning brain and nervous system.

  • No matter what the age of your child, they learn what they live. You need to provide a healthy food environment based on whole foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and a lean protein source.
  • Increased riboflavin can help improve energy production, just as niacin does. Niacin also can boost skin health. Thiamin aids in muscle and nerve functions.
  • A lot of brain development takes place during the teen years. A healthy diet should include nutrients like folic acid, zinc, and iron for improved concentration and memory.
  • Don’t forget fiber. The need for fiber is far higher in teenagers than it is in adults. Fiber can come from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It can help prevent digestive issues and nurture a healthy gut microbiome.

For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness

Leave a Reply