There is a lot of growth during the teen years. Emotional growth, intellectual growth, spiritual growth and, of course, physical growth. All of this growing can be exhausting (this is one of the reasons teens need so much sleep!) It also means that nutritional needs are increased to support all this growth and change.
The teen years are second only to pregnancy and lactation for high nutrient requirements. The best way to ensure you are getting all of these nutrients is to eat a diverse diet high in different coloured fruits and vegetables, whole grains (such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, and millet), legumes and beans, lean meats (or alternatives) and low fat dairy (or alternatives).
Below are two charts on micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, fats, water) nutritional needs. Values given are daily requirements.
*Vitamin D requirements are higher in Canada from October to May due to inadequate sun exposure during the winter.
**Any female who is sexually active should be taking an additional 400mcg daily to prevent birth defects if pregnancy occurs
Remember: these reference values are for normal, apparently healthy individuals eating a mixed North American diet. An individual may have individual physiological, health, or lifestyle characteristics that may require different intakes of specific nutrients.
If you are concerned you are not getting enough nutrients in your diet consider a high quality multivitamin-mineral supplement to meet your needs. It is better to take a supplement to meet your needs than to deprive your body of the building blocks it needs to grow and maintain health through your teens and beyond.
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.
Health Canada Dietary Reference Intake Tables. Available online at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/index-eng.php