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Nutritional Needs of Teens

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.

Teens need over 2 litres of water daily

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:

Onset of Mental Health Disorders – Teen Years

The majority of ‘adult’ mental health disorders start during the teen years. This is not surprising given the substantial development occurring in the brain during the teens. Problems with this rapid and drastic development have been linked to mild mood disturbances as well as major illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.


Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood. Children tend to experience separation anxiety, while during the teen years social phobia, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety are the most commonly experienced anxiety disorders. In early adulthood panic disorders often start, perhaps due to inadequate management of anxiety during the teen years.


Natural support for mental illness in teensAlthough depression rates are highest in those aged 25-44, the average onset of depression is around 14 years of age.   Depression is a huge concern for teens because it is a major risk factor for suicide. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for 10-to-24 year olds. Additionally, depression often co-exists with other mood disorders such as anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse.


With 1% of the population suffering from schizophrenia, it is not one of the most common mental disorders. Schizophrenia affects males and females equally. Men tend to have their first episode in their late teens, women are most often affected later – in their twenties and thirties.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) tends to occur later than the other mental disorders on this list. The average age of diagnosis is the mid-twenties, with a first manic episode occurring in the late teens or early twenties. Bipolar disorder is slightly more prevalent than schizophrenia affecting approximately 1.2% of people over 18 years of age.


Naturopathic medicine for mood in teensWith such a large proportion of mental disorders beginning during the teen years, why are we not recognizing these issues and offering more support to these teens?

Teens who are seeking a drug-free solution to their mental health concerns should consult with a Naturopathic Doctor who is well versed in adolescent health, mental health and who can help you recognize your imbalances and provide you with a plan to help regain balance in your life.

Effective natural treatments are available for anxiety and depression. If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, your Naturopathic Doctor can work with your Medical Doctor to help you feel better and regain a sense of health and well-being in your life.

If you suspect you may have a mental health disorder, consult a Naturopathic or Medical Doctor. For further reading, visit Teen Mental Health or Adolescent Medicine at Sick Kids Hospital.


William R Yates, MD, MS. Anxiety Disorders. E-medicine from WebMD, updated April 20, 2010. available online at: Accessed November 20, 2010.

National Institute of Mental Health. The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America. Reviewed November 18, 2010. Accessed November 20, 2010.


60 Sources of Vegan Iron

Iron is one of the most important minerals for health.  Iron is used to form hemoglobin which allows our red blood cells to carry oxygen to each and every cell in our body.  Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide with up to two billion people affected, mostly women and children, and affects omnivores and vegetarians alike.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency generally develops slowly and symptoms often do not appear until anemia is severe, even though our cells are already suffering the consequences of inadequate iron.

Symptoms of iron deficiency are similar in all age groups and include:

iron in the vegetarian diet

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irritability
  • Pale skin
  • Sore tongue
  • Dark coloured stools
  • Frequent infections
  • Sensitivity to temperatures (cold or heat)
  • Pica (the desire to eat non-food substances – most commonly ice or dirt)

Vegetarians have no higher incidence of iron deficient anemia than the omnivore population, however there are some additional precautions vegetarians must take to ensure an adequate dietary intake of iron.

Absorption of Iron from the Diet

Green leafy vegetables are a source of vegan ironDietary sources of iron are either heme-based (from animal sources) or non-heme (vegetarian.)  Some foods (such as cereals and infant formulas) are also iron-enriched or iron-fortified – non-heme iron is used in these foods.

Although a vegetarian diet is likely to contain as much (or more) iron than an omnivorous diet, the non-heme iron in a vegetarian diet is substantially less available for absorption because of differences in the chemical form of iron and accompanying constituents that inhibit iron absorption (such as calcium, tannins and phytates).

Vegetarians need to consume approximately 80% more iron than indicated by the national Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) due to the decreased bioavailability.  Absorption of non-heme is estimated to be 10%, although more will be absorbed in cases of severe anemia.  By comparison the absorption of non-heme iron is approximately 18%.

Iron absorption can be enhanced by combining iron rich foods with a source of vitamin C, using iron cookware (especially for cooking acidic foods that solubize iron from the pan), sprouting grains and avoiding coffee, tea and red wine with meals.

Vegetarian Food Sources of Iron

Food Amount Iron (mg)
Fruits and Vegetables
Spinach (cooked) ½ cup 3.4
Tomato (pureed) ½ cup 2.4
Asparagus 6 spears 2.1
Hearts of palm (canned) ½ cup 2.0
Swiss chard (cooked) ½ cup 2.0
Potato (cooked, with skin) 1 medium 1.9
Snow peas ½ cup 1.7
Turnip or beet greens (cooked) ½ cup 1.7
Prune juice ½ cup 1.6
Apricots (dried) ¼ cup 1.6
Beets (canned) ½ cup 1.6
Raisins ½ cup 1.6
Watermelon 1/8 medium 1.4
Kale (cooked) ½ cup 1.3
Green peas (cooked) ½ cup 1.3
Tomato sauce ½ cup 1.3
Bok choy (cooked) ½ cup 0.9
Broccoli (cooked) ½ cup 0.6
Brussels sprouts (cooked) ½ cup 0.5
Beans, lentils, legumes
Edamame or soybeans (cooked) ¾ cup 6.5
Tofu (cooked) ¾ cup 2.4-8.0
Tempeh (cooked) ¾ cup 3.2
Lentils (cooked) ¾ cup 4.9
White beans (cooked) ¾ cup 4.9
Adzuki beans (cooked) ¾ cup 3.4
Navy beans (cooked) ¾ cup 3.2
Kidney beans (cooked) ¾ cup 2.9
Black beans (cooked) ¾ cup 2.7
Pinto beans (cooked) ¾ cup 2.7
Baked beans (cooked, canned) ¾ cup 2.2
Lima beans ½ cup 2.2
Chickpeas (cooked) ¾ cup 3.5
Black eyed peas (cooked) ¾ cup
Split peas (cooked) ¾ cup 1.8
Soy yogurt ¾ cup 2.1
Hummus ¼ cup 1.5
Oatmeal (cooked) ¾ cup 6.0
Cream of wheat (cooked) ¾ cup 5.7
Cereal (dry) 30g 4.0
Soda cracker 6 crackers 2.3
Oat bran cereal (cooked) ¾ cup 2.0
Quinoa (cooked) ½ cup 1.4
Pasta, egg noodle (cooked) ½ cup 1.3
Bulgur (cooked)  ½ cup 0.8
Millet (cooked) ½ cup 0.6
Nuts and Seeds
Pumpkin seeds (roasted) ¼ cup 4.7
Peanuts ¼ cup 1.7
Macadamia nuts ¼ cup 1.2
Pistachio nuts ¼ cup 1.2
Cashews ¼ cup 0.8
Almonds ¼ cup 0.8
Hazelnuts ¼ cup 0.9
Pecans ¼ cup 0.6
Tahini 2 tbsp 2.7
Sesame seeds (roasted) 1 tbsp 1.4
Almond butter 2 tbsp 1.1
Peanut butter 2 tbsp 0.6
Other Delicious Foods
Blackstrap molasses 1 tbsp 3.6
Yeast extract spread (vegemite or marmite) 2 tbsp 1.5

Sources: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24, 2011

Recommended Daily Intake and Supplementation

The RDI for iron is 80% higher for vegetarians and is dependent on your age.  Children, adolescents and pregnant women have increased needs due to the rapid growth seen during these ages.  The values below are for vegetarian people only and reflect the increased need for iron in this population

Daily recommended intake of dietary iron for vegetarians

Children are at risk for iron deficiencyInfants (0-2 years): 19mg per day
Children (3-11 years): 18mg per day
Adolescent girls (12-18): 27mg
Adolescent boys (12-18): 19mg
Adult women (19-50): 32mg
Adult men (19-50): 15mg
Pregnant women: 48mg
Seniors (>50): 14mg 

Iron supplements should only be taken if blood tests have shown evidence of an iron deficiency or decrease in iron storage levels. Research suggests that a daily iron supplement is best for treating low iron, however frequency may be decreased to once or twice per week for prevention of deficiency in people with a history of low iron.

Iron supplements should be taken away from other minerals (especially calcium) since these may decrease the absorption of iron.  A source of vitamin C (500mg capsule) is also recommended to enhance absorption each time an iron supplement is taken.

Ferrous fumarate and ferrous sulfate contain the highest amount of elemental iron per mg with ferrous gluconate containing the least.  Ferrous gluconate, ferrous fumarate and ferrous citrate are well tolerated with fewer digestive side effects reported.

Constipation, darkening of the stool and digestive upset are the main side effects seen with iron supplements.  Supplements should be continued for three months beyond the resolution of iron deficiency anemia to replenish body stores of iron.

If you suspect you may have an iron deficiency, seek a blood test from your Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor.


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.

Selected References

Goddard AF, James MW, McIntyre AS, Scott BB. Guidelines for the management of iron deficiency anaemia. British Society of Gastroenterology. 2005

M Amit; Canadian Paediatric Society, Community Paediatrics Committee. Vegetarian diets in children and adolescents. Paediatr Child Health 2010;15(5):303-314.

Hunt JR.  Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and other trace minerals from vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(suppl):633S–9S

Stoltzfus RJ, Dreyfuss ML. Guidelines for the Use of Iron Supplements to Prevent and Treat Iron Deficiency Anemia. International Nutritional Anemia Consultative Group (INACG)

Teen Insomnia

There is no question that teens need their sleep.  Often parents recognize when their teens are sleeping too late – waking at noon or later, but insomnia in teens often goes unnoticed.

An article in the journal Sleep suggests that 12.5% of teens experience insomnia and that in almost half of those teens the insomnia is chronic.  This means that insomnia is just as common in teens as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.  So why are teens losing sleep?

Teen insomniaSleep patterns in teens

Major changes in sleep patterns happen during the teen years.  Sleep patterns in teens are different than those of children and adults.  Teens need, on average 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night.  However, the hormone that is responsible for causing feelings of sleepiness (melatonin) is produced later in teens than in children and adults.  This means that teens often have difficulty falling asleep early and tend to stay up later at night.  Combined with an early waking time for school it is nearly impossible for most teens to get the necessary 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night.

Mood disorders and sleep

Disturbed sleep is associated with mood disorders in teens – teens with insomnia are more likely to be depressed or anxious, and anxious or depressed teens are more likely to have insomnia.  Although in adults these conditions are more common in females, in teens insomnia is equally as likely to affect boys as girls.

It is unclear whether insomnia leads to anxiety and depression or if the reverse is true.  It is clear that these conditions are affecting the health of teens and that identification and treatment of insomnia in teens is an important health goal.

Recognizing sleep disorders in teens

There are many signs that can identify sleep disorders in teens.  These include:

  • Difficulty waking in the morning
  • Falling asleep in class
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Decreased performance in school
  • Feelings of moodiness or depression
  • Late afternoon fatigue
  • Cravings for sugar in the afternoon
  • Decreased motivation

Sleep deprivation or insomnia?Teen computer insomnia

Biologically determined circadian rhythms are keeping teens up later – but biology doesn’t take all the blame.  For some teens part-time jobs, homework, social activities, computer games, television, social media sites and other behaviours are keeping teens up late – beyond the point where their bodies and minds are tired.  These teens are choosing to sleep less, prioritizing other activities by sacrificing sleep.

Signs that a teen may be sleep deprived rather than suffering from insomnia include:

  • Use of caffeinated beverages (cola, tea or coffee) or “energy drinks” to stay awake at night
  • Late night video game or television watching
  • Anger or moodiness when confronted about sleep issues

Treating teen insomnia

Establishing appropriate sleep-time rituals is the first step to encouraging healthy sleep in teens.

  1. Set a regular bedtime

Establish a regular bedtime and stick to it.  Going to bed at the same time every night trains our body to fall asleep more easily and to sleep more soundly.  Compromise on a reasonable bedtime – one that allows time in the evening for activities but also allows for adequate sleep each night.

2. Remove the television and computer from the bedroom

Any light before bedtime – including the light from a television or computer screen can disrupt the body’s ability to initiate sleep.  It is best to keep the television and computer in a separate room and have the focus in the  bedroom be on sleep.

3. Caffeine worsens PMS symptomsAvoid stimulants

Caffeine (soda, tea, coffee, chocolate) and other stimulants should be avoided from early afternoon on to avoid disrupting sleep.

4. Keep the bedroom dark at bedtime, and bright at waking

Darkness stimulates the body to produce melatonin – the hormone that causes sleepiness.  Use dark window coverings to block light from the outdoors.  Turn alarm clocks towards the wall or cover them up.  In the morning bright light stimulates our body to wake up – place a lamp on a timer to help the body wake up more naturally.

5. Avoid napping too much

Napping can help to meet our sleep needs, but napping too much can disrupt nighttime sleep.  Nap for no more than 40 minutes and nap only between 3 and 4pm – no napping after 5pm or falling asleep at night will be difficult.

In addition, some natural therapies can be effective in treating short-term insomnia in teens.  For chronic insomnia a consultation with a sleep specialist is recommended.

  1. Melatonin

The hormone that is responsible for sleepiness can be taken as a supplement.  Since melatonin production in teens is delayed (some studies suggest it isn’t being produced until 1am, compared with 10pm for adults) there is some evidence to suggest that taking a melatonin supplement can help teens with insomnia fall asleep at a reasonable time.

Melatonin should not be used in teens before puberty or in early stages of puberty.  It should only be used for short periods of time and in low doses.  Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor to determine if melatonin supplementation is appropriate for your teen.

2. Passionflower

Passion flowerA gentle botanical (plant-based) medicine that is effective in the treatment of insomnia associated with restlessness, anxiety or over-active mind at bedtime.  This type of insomnia is common in teens, with anxiety over tests, social relationships, jobs, and other issues.  A cup of passionflower tea 30 minutes before bed or a passionflower supplement can be used safely for acute insomnia in teens.

Passionflower should not be used during pregnancy.

3. Chamomile

Another gentle botanical that can be used as a mild sleep aid in children, adults and teens.  Taken as a tea 30 minutes before bed or in supplement form it can effectively treat acute insomnia and is very calming.

Chamomile should not be used in pregnancy or in people with hayfever.

4. Valerian

One of the most common natural supplements for sleep, valerian is not recommended for use in teens.  Valerian has similar properties to benzodiazepine drugs and in children and teens these medications can often cause restlessness rather than sleepiness.

Insomnia in teens is a health concern that should be taken seriously.  Talking with teens about appropriate bedtime behaviours, maintaining a regular bedtime and the occasional use of supplements can help teens get the sleep they need to succeed in school, work and life.


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.


Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Monographs on Valerian, Melatonin, Passionflower and Chamomile.  Accessed November 1, 2010.

Roberts R, Roberts CR, Chan W.  Persistence and Change in Symptoms of Insomnia among Adolescents.  SLEEP 2008;31(2): 177-184.

Multivitamins for Teens – The Best Health Boost

You wouldn’t consider going through pregnancy without taking a multivitamin supplement.  Did you know the teen years are second only to pregnancy in nutritional needs – but how many teens are taking a multivitamin supplement?  Not enough!

The NHANES and NHANES III (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) both concluded that:

The highest prevalence of unsatisfactory nutritional status
in the adolescent age group”

Read on to discover the ways a multivitamin can support health during the teen years – and beyond.

Increased Growth Needs for Teens

Teens grow at astounding rates!  Teenage girls grow approximately 23 to 28 cm during their teen years, and teen boys add approximately 26 to 28 cm to their height.  Growth during the teen years accounts for about 20% of total height.

Not only do teens grow up, but they grow out as well.  Weight gain during the teens accounts for about 50% of a person’s ideal adult body weight.  Lean body mass (muscle mass, bones, organs – everything except body fat) increases in both teen boys and girls.

Multivitamins provide a wide spectrum of both vitamins and minerals – nutrients that are essential for growth.  In addition to these nutrients proper amounts of protein, healthy fats (omega 3 fatty acids), and unrefined grains also support healthy growth in teens.

Teens often have very active lifestyles

Increased Physical Activity

The lifestyle of most teens is hectic.  School, part-time jobs, chores, homework, activities with friends – and yet many teens still find time to engage in regular physical activity.  Many adults could learn a lesson from these teens!

Teen athletes (and all active teens) have increased nutritional needs.  A higher daily intake of calories is needed – for 2 hours of physical activity an extra 800 to 1700 calories are needed daily!  In addition to calories, active teens also have higher requirements for sodium and potassium.  And water!  Many people forget that water is an essential nutrient – but it is.  Maintaining hydration is very important for teen health.

Both male and female teen athletes are at risk of iron deficiency.  Regular (yearly or more often) blood tests should be done to make sure iron levels are adequate for teen health.   A multivitamin supplement containing iron should only be used once blood tests have confirmed low iron status.

Poor Eating Habits

Teens may be able to teach adults a thing or two about incorporating physical activity into busy lifestyles, but they could also learn a thing or two about healthy eating.  There are a number of poor eating habits that contribute to nutritional deficiencies and are (unfortunately) very common in teens:

Teens often make high calorie, low nutrient food choices
  • Frequently skip or miss meals
  • High-sugar snacks (including soda) with low nutritional value are popular
  • Excess fast-food consumption

A multivitamin is NOT a substitute for poor eating habits.  Taking a multivitamin supplement will not make an unhealthy diet into a healthy one.  Multivitamins can support our bodies when we don’t always make perfect choices but should be used together with a healthy, balanced diet.

Unique Circumstances

The only thing many teens have in common is their age.  Just about every teen will have their own unique circumstances that lead to individual nutritional needs.  Some of these circumstances include

  • Sports/ physical activity
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Illegal drug use
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Prescription drug use
  • Vegan diet
  • Vegetarian diet
  • Weight management diets (to gain or lose weight)

Each of these circumstances lead to unique nutritional needs.  There is also another circumstance that half of teens experience that lead to increased nutrient needs.  That circumstance is the menstrual period.  Teen girls are at increased risk of iron deficiency due to their monthly period and use of birth control pills in teens further contributes to deficiencies of B vitamins, folate, magnesium, selenium, zinc and others.

Establish Lifelong Health

The choices we make during our teen years influences the health of our bodies for the rest of our lives.  Changes in bone mass and density occur throughout life, but bone mineral density reaches its peak during the late teens and early adulthood.  These minerals will serve as a “bone bank” for the remainder of life.  Ensure that you are supporting your bones (so they can support you!) by:

  • engaging in regular physical activity
  • consuming adequate calcium in the diet
  • taking a calcium supplement if necessary
  • taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement

Correct Deficiencies

One of the most common uses of multivitamins in all ages is to correct nutrient deficiencies.

A balanced diet plus a multivitamin supplement provides top health for teens.

As previously mentioned, the NHANES and NHANES III studies found that teens had the most unsatisfactory nutritional status of all age groups.  They found that teens were most likely to be deficient in:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

A multivitamin, in combination with a healthy diet can correct these deficiencies and prevent the numerous health consequences of having a nutrient deficiency.

Multivitamins for Teens

Above I highlighted many of the reasons why a multivitamin is an excellent addition to teen health – so how do you select a multivitamin for your teen?  The best suggestion is to consult with a Naturopathic Doctor who can uncover any unique nutritional needs for your teen.  Otherwise, select a high potency, high quality multivitamin and take as directed for your teen’s age.


Neinstein L. (Ed.)  Adolescent Health Care: A Practical Guide.  4th Ed. 2002.  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  Philadelphia.

National Center for Health Statistics.  Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) Public-Use Data Files.  Available online at

Teen Girls Need More Calcium

Teen girls aren’t likely to be thinking about their risk for osteoporosis, but maybe they should be.  Peak bone density is reached for most women in their early 20s, and what they are eating in their teen years has an enormous impact on the health of their bones later in life.

Calcium is an essential mineral found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables (spinach, mustard greens, collard greens), almonds, tofu, broccoli, green beans, tofu, asparagus, figs, and apricots.  Calcium requirements vary based on need – and the need increases during times of growth, such as during teen growth spurts.

Calcium Requirements by Age (mg/day)

Infants 0-6 months:  210
Infants 6-12 months: 270
Children 1-3 years: 500
Children 4-8 years: 800
Pre-teen 9-13 years: 1300 – 1500
Teen 14-18 years: 1300 – 1500
Adult 19-30 years: 1000
Adult 31-50 years: 1000
Adult 51 + years: 1200 – 1500
Teen pregnancy and lactation: 1300
Adult pregnancy and lactation: 1000

Modified from Health Canada DRI Tables

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the intake of calcium in the diet of over 350 teen girls and found that the majority of girls were consuming less than the recommended intake of 1300mg per day.  The average calcium intake was 830mg/day – approximately 65% of the daily recommended intake.  The study looked at the long term effects of supplementing teenage girls with calcium (supplementing with an additional 670mg/day to obtain a daily calcium intake of 1500mg/day) and found that giving teen girls calcium during their teen growth spurt produced higher bone mineral density, making bones bigger and stronger.

The researchers in this study expect that the benefits of calcium supplementation during the teen years will benefit these women into late adulthood, preventing osteoporosis.  Several years of supplementation (ideally from 9-19 years of age) is necessary to have the maximum positive impact.

This study also found that taller girls benefit from higher levels of calcium (as they will have longer bones to support their height).

Supplementing with Calcium

The first step in meeting the calcium needs of teen girls is to include calcium rich foods in the diet.  Below is a list of some of the highest food sources of calcium.  Since dairy is a common source of calcium, special care must be taken by vegans to ensure they are getting enough calcium.

Calcium supplements should be used in teen girls to make sure optimal levels of calcium are achieved.  Calcium should be taken with vitamin D to improve absorption of calcium.

Another way teen girls (and all women) can support healthy bones later in life is by engaging in weight-bearing physical activity several times per week.

Food Sources of Calcium

Gruyere cheese (3oz) 860mg
Mozzarella cheese (3oz) 621mg
Cheddar cheese (3oz) 525mg
Turnip greens (1 cup, cooked) 492mg
Collard greens (1 cup, cooked) 357mg
Yogurt (1 cup) 345mg
Sesame seeds (1/4 cup) 340mg
Soy milk (fortified, 1 cup) 300mg
Cow milk (1 cup) 300mg
Spinach (1 cup, cooked) 245mg
Tofu (2/3 cup) 190mg
Broccoli (1 cup, cooked) 180mg
Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp) 137mg
Almonds (1/4 cup) 92mg

For a list of vegan calcium sources, check out this article: Vegan Calcium Sources.

Broccoli is a vegan source of calcium

The teen years are a time of immense growth and development.  Don’t forget that your bones are growing too.  Support your bones, now and later in life, by consuming adequate calcium in your teens.


Health Canada: Dietary Reference Intakes Tables

Velimir Matkovic, Prem K Goel, Nancy E Badenhop-Stevens, et. al.  Calcium Supplementation and Bone Mineral Density in Females from Childhood to Young Adulthood: a Randomized Controlled Trial.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  2005; 81: 175-88.

Marz, Russell.  Medical Nutrition from Marz.  2nd Ed.  1997.

Naturopathic Medicine for Teens

No one will dispute the fact that the teen years can be a challenging time.  School work, part-time jobs, sports, friends, chores, preparing for college – all of these things and many others make the teen years a very busy and demanding time.  So how do teens cope when a health concern adds additional strain to an already overwhelming time?

Naturopathic medicine for mood in teensHealth Concerns Affecting Teenagers

Teenagers don’t have it easy when it comes to health!  For some people it is a time of peak health – lots of energy, physical fitness, and few concerns or worries.  But the majority of teens are coping with at least one health problem.

The teen years are a transition from childhood to adulthood and during this time teenagers can have health problems that normally affect either children or adults.  The teen years are also a time when many chronic illnesses first are diagnosed.

Some conditions that teenagers may be dealing with:

  • Acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions
  • Addiction – alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, other legal and illegal drugs
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive complaints – stomach pain, IBS, nausea, constipation, diarrhea
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Hypothyroid and hyperthyroid
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders
  • Menstrual cycle disorders – PMS, heavy periods, irregular periods, endometriosis
  • Nutrient deficiency – from poor diet, vegan, vegetarian diets and dieting
  • Pain and injury – including sprains, strains and fractures
  • Personal growth and development – mental, emotional and spiritual change and maturity
  • Pregnancy and birth control use
  • Stress
  • Weight management issues

Naturopathic Medicine for Teenagers

Naturopath for teensNaturopathic Medicine is an ideal treatment option for teenagers.  With a focus on prevention and individualized treatments Naturopathic Doctors are able to listen to and understand the unique experiences and symptoms for each teen and tailor a treatment plan to their needs.

I first discovered Naturopathic Medicine when I was seventeen and had undiagnosed nausea daily for several months.  After a consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor I discovered the link between my stress levels and my digestive symptoms.  With a few nutritional supplements and some stress management techniques my symptoms were cured within a few short weeks.  My personal experience encouraged me to become a Naturopathic Doctor and to help other teenagers find an alternative to suffering with their health problems.

Being a Naturopathic Doctor enables me to help other teenagers heal through the gentle and natural therapies I use in my practice.  I place an emphasis on finding the root cause of the problem and correcting it with:

  • nutritional and dietary counseling
  • nutritional supplements
  • botanical (herbal) medicines
  • homeopathy
  • acupuncture
  • stress management
  • lifestyle counseling

If you are a teenager, or know a teenager, that could benefit from Naturopathic Medicine consider booking a free 15 minute consult to meet with me and discuss how we can work together to make your teen years healthy, naturally.