Teens should be consuming more calories than adults however, some teenagers may be vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. Anything that increases nutritional needs, such as taking part in competitive sport, or anything that interferes with food intake, such as dieting, can have a great impact on nutrient intakes.
The best way for teenagers to get all the nutrients and energy they need, is to eat a wide variety of nutrient rich foods from the food groups.
There are some nutrients which are particularly important for teenagers including protein, iodine, iron, vitamin D and calcium – which are needed for growth and development.
MILK AND DAIRY FOOD GROUP
Milk, hard cheeses and yogurt are great for teenage bodies. They are a source of calcium, phosphorus and protein, which are crucial for developing healthy bones.
Despite an increased need for calcium, it is very common for teens to fall short of their recommended daily intake – particularly girls. The latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey reported that 19% of 11- to 18- year old girls are not getting the calcium they need from food.
If teenage girls are worried about the fat content in dairy foods – they need not be! There are a plenty of lower-calorie options available; semi-skimmed, 1% fat and skimmed milk, as well as low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat cheeses. These are a good options as they contain all the calcium but fewer calories than whole milk products.
Foods from the dairy group also contain other important nutrients such as vitamin B12, riboflavin (also known as vitamin B2), iodine, phosphorus and potassium.