Teens seem to grow at an exponential rate, so much so that the term “growing pains” is often meant literally, not just figuratively. To support such rapid growth, consider paying particular attention to the nutritional needs of teenagers. In many ways, they are similar to adults and both can follow the same general guidelines, but they do have unique requirements.
As a general rule, teens should eat a nutrient-rich diet that highlights variety, moderation and a balance of food choices. A sensible diet, paired with physical activity, supports health and a normal weight and helps prevent chronic diseases.
How does teen nutrition differ?
While there’s a lot of overlap between adults and teenagers, the specific nutritional needs of a teen include subtle metabolic and developmental differences as you will see in the supplements below. It’s also important to recognize that teenagers’ appetites mark a huge increase over those of small children, who require much fewer calories than do teenagers or adults.
A 1-year-old child should consume about 900 calories per day, for example, while a 14- to 18-year-old needs 1,800 to 2,200 calories, depending on their activity level. As teens hit their growth spurt, their dietary needs increase dramatically. For girls, this generally occurs around 10 to 11 years of age, while for boys it occurs later, at around 12 to 13 years.
What nutrients do teens need?
Basically, all that growing requires extra energy. The best foods to support growth are ones that provide nutrients—not just empty calories. Nutrient-dense foods like wholegrain breads, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and lean meats are optimal. Plus, they are a good way to balance most teens’ proclivity for takeaway and fast foods. Milk, yogurt and cheese should be considered a dietary staple to boost calcium intake—especially key for growing bones. Adolescent girls should be particularly encouraged to consume milk and milk products or fortified dairy alternatives.
Remember that kids eat healthier when their parents do. Aim to expose them to healthy food choices and to cultivate a relationship to food as a source of joy and pleasurable nourishment. If food is treated with respect, rather than as an enemy, it can help your teen improve their body image and their relationship with food—as well as your own.
As with adults, teens may struggle to get all the nutrients they need from diet alone. A supplement geared specifically for teens’ dietary requirements is a good way to ensure a strong nutritional foundation.
Best vitamins for teen girls
Smarty Pants Teen Girls Complete
These teenager and gender specific vitamins, formulated with a careful eye on teen’s needs, can ensure that your teen’s diet is nutritionally complete. Lutein and zeaxanthin support eye health, especially to compensate for the high energy blue light digital devices emit. And while both the teenage girls and boys supplements contain zinc and biotin, the levels differ to adjust for the different dietary requirements of each gender.
Naturelo Whole Food Vitamin for Teens
Vitamins and minerals sourced from real fruits and vegetables—organic whenever possible—offer the benefits of plant-based nutrition. For example, the vitamin C comes from acerola cherries, vitamin E from sunflower seeds, and calcium from algae. The formula is designed to support clear skin, immunity, energy, mental focus, muscle recovery, and eye and brain health, areas that are prominent in your teen’s wheelhouse.
Michael’s Naturopathic Programs Teen Girl’s Tabs Daily Multivitamin
This formula, crafted by a naturopath, contains Opti-Zinc® with choline, inositol and niacin for fat metabolism as well as herbs and minerals that have been traditionally used by females for health. For example, the multi includes dong quai root for healthy reproductive system and manganese for breast health.
Best vitamins for teen boys
VegLife Vital Teen Boys Multiple
VegLife is uniquely positioned as a line of nutritional supplements exclusively devoted to vegetarians and vegans. Their teen boys multivitamin is designed for active male teens whose diet may lack sufficient nutrients for rapidly growing bodies. Five additional support blends—for muscles, mood, immune, stress and mental acuity—round out the formula.One-a-Day for Him VitaCraves Teen Multi Gummies Multivitamin/Mineral Supplement
In delicious gummy form, this supplement supports bone health, immune health and physical energy. The formula’s special emphasis on bolstering physical energy, by helping convert food to fuel, is expressed through the inclusion of high levels of B vitamins.Nature’s Plus Source of Life Power Teen for Him Chewable Multi-Vitamin Wild Berry
In this formulation, amino acids and a blend of zinc/magnesium/aspartic acid complex promote superior muscular growth, strength and endurance. Plus, cranberry extract and probiotics K12 and M18 support natural defenses for a healthier, clearer complexion, while protecting the inner ear, teeth and gums, all vulnerable areas of concern for teens.