Top 5 Critical Nutritional Requirements For Teenagers (13 Years & Onwards)
Teenagers don’t always eat well-balanced nutritional meals. Teens need extra nutrients to support bone growth, hormonal changes and organ and tissue development, including the brain. Parents are having some serious concerns when it comes to nutritional requirements for teenagers (13 years & onwards).
Are you worried that your teen is not eating properly and may not be getting the required nutrition? Do you want to plan out a meal chart that your teen will find interesting enough to eat? Does your teen love eating junk food and you want to encourage the benefits of eating at home?
If you are facing any of these issues with your teen’s food habits, read on to more about the nutritional needs for teenagers and what you can do about it.
Young people experience many changes during their tween and teen years. Building healthy food and physical activity habits will help them now and as they enter adulthood.
Nutritional Requirements For Teenagers
The teenage years are a time of rapid growth and development, so a healthy balanced diet is particularly important. Healthy, active young people can have large appetites.
If you’re a parent of a teenager, it’s important to make sure to include an equal proportion of nutritional requirements in their meals; rather than loading it with too many snacks that are high in fat, sugar or salt.
The teenager should be eating a healthy balanced diet that matches their energy needs. This should be made up of the 4 main food groups which comprises of:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and other proteins
- Fruit and Dry fruits
- Potatoes, bread, rice, etc.
- Dairy and alternatives
Let’s have a look at the must eat nutrients that your teen needs during these crucial years:
1. Eating Enough Iron
Iron is important nutritional requirements for teenagers which helps boost in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body so it is important for teenagers to get enough iron, especially teenage girls who are at increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia.
The good sources of iron include:
- Wholegrain cereals
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and watercress
- Dried apricots or figs
2. Protein – Important Nutritional Requirement
Protein is extremely important for your teen’s growth and development. It helps to build, repair and maintain the tissues in your teen’s body (1). In order for the body to grow and maintain muscle strength, it is very important to consume proteins. On an average, around 45-60 gm of protein is required. Consuming non-vegetarian food can easily make your teen obtain protein from meat and fish. Whereas, vegetarian food supplies protein from pulses, beans, soya, etc.
Some very good sources of protein for your teen are:
- Meat, eggs, fish
Other foods that are rich in protein are peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, tofu, and kidney beans.
3. Carbohydrates – Important Source Of Energy
Carbohydrates are a very essential nutritional requirements for teenagers.
Simple carbohydrates are the ones that are naturally available in fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products and are a good source of energy.
Complex carbohydrates are also a good source of fiber and continuously provide energy. You should ensure your teen eats more of complex carbohydrates and less of simple carbohydrates
The rich resource of carbohydrates include food items like:
- Simple carbohydrates – milk, milk products, fruits, vegetables.
- Complex carbohydrates – whole grain food items, legumes, starchy vegetables, and cereals.
4. Vitamins & Minerals
If your teen has a balanced diet, he will get his requisite dose of all the essential nutrients. Vitamins and minerals increase your teen’s immunity and protect him from various health conditions like anemia, night blindness, weakness and so on.
Some of the rich source of Vitamins & Minerals are:
- Yogurt & Cheese
- Leafy veggies
- Seasonal fruits
You can also add nuts, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, avocados, bananas, beans, and peas to your teen’s diet.
5. Importance of Calcium
Deficiency of calcium leads to weak bones and osteoporosis in later stages of life. You teenager should get 1200 mg of calcium from the food he/she consume every day. Include calcium rich foods like dairy products, cereals, leafy vegetables, etc., in your teen’s diet. Besides, it is advisable to reduce the intake of soda drinks and overly sugary foods that tend to suck up calcium from the bones.
Some of the rich source of calcium can be found in:
- Soya beans
- White beans
- Orange juice
Eat dinner together as a family whenever you can. Keep your home stocked with healthy foods and be a good role model. Keeping nutritional requirements for teenagers in check, try to focus on health, not weight, and get your teen involved in helping you prepare meals whenever possible.
Which Food Items To Avoid
Foods high in fat, particularly saturated fat, sugar or salt, should only be eaten in small amounts or not very often.
From the age of 11, everyone should try to eat no more than 6g salt and 30g of sugar a day.
What Is A Healthy Weight In Teenager?
If you are active and eating a healthy balanced diet, you should be able to maintain a healthy weight.
If you are teenage kid is overweight, you should stick to a balanced diet, try to cut down on the foods containing sugar and fat, and guide them to get plenty of physical (sport) activity.
Teenagers should be aiming for an hour of physical activity every day.
It will be a good idea to:
- Cut down on sweets, cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks
- Eat fewer fatty foods such as chips, burgers and fried food and processed foods such as instant noodles
- Eat regular balanced meals
- Base meals on starchy foods, choosing wholegrain varieties whenever possible
- Eat more fruit and vegetables
Stay Tuned For Health Nutrition & Fitness For Kids
Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It simply means eating a variety of foods and cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate. These foods should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.
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