People require certain nutrients for optimum health during all stages of life. While infancy and early childhood are times of rapid growth and development, puberty provides a subsequent portal to maturity. During puberty, adolescent bodies go through many changes that require special nutritional needs. Healthy diets help to provide the necessary elements for proper development during the phase of puberty.
Puberty marks the time in life when sexual maturity develops. The exact age for puberty varies, depending on many factors, such as heredity. Girls usually enter puberty around 11 years of age, while boys normally begin this phase at about 12 years of age. This sexual development continues for several years, often ending around the age of 14 for girls and 15 or 16 for boys. Not eating enough the right types of foods may delay the onset of puberty.
The Institute of Medicine recommends specific amounts of nutrients depending on certain criteria, including age. Adolescents between the ages of 9 and 13 should consume about 1,200 mg of vitamin C, 600 mg of vitamin E and about 60 mg of vitamin B6 each day, among various other nutrients. The recommendations for teens between 14 and 18 years of age include 1,800 mg of vitamin C, 800 mg of vitamin E and 80 mg of vitamin B6.
Teenagers experience rapid growth that results in an increased need for nutrients. Provide a well balanced diet that supplies about 2,200 calories per day for girls and between 2,500 to 2,800 calories each day for boys, unless your child's doctor recommends different amounts because of weight problems, notes Helpguide.org. Include meals that contain healthy sources of protein such as lean meats, fish and beans. Encourage your adolescent to eat foods that contain calcium, including dairy products, calcium-fortified juices and cereals, as well as spinach. Nuts, chicken, spinach and enriched whole grains also supply iron, an important element for developing muscle mass and energy.
Providing a well balanced diet while eliminating junk foods will help your child avoid nutritional deficiencies that may affect the normal rate of growth during puberty. Teaching your adolescent to make nutritious food choices can encourage a lifetime of healthy eating, as well as minimize his chances of developing dangerous dietary patterns and eating disorders.
Helpguide.org warns that teenagers have a high risk of developing eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Inadequate diets may lead to weight gain that results in obesity, a health condition that may increase your child's odds of developing diabetes and heart disease.