Adolescence is a time of great transformation. Teenagers experience many physiologic changes, including a rapid increase in growth rate that creates special nutritional needs. In addition, changes in lifestyle and food habits affect nutrient intake. Besides extra calories, protein and minerals like calcium and iron, it is important that teens get a sufficient amount of vitamins each day in order to maintain proper health and development.
Thiamin, or vitamin B-1, is essential for the release of energy from carbohydrates. Because of increased energy needs, more vitamin B-1 is required. It is also necessary for the proper function of the muscles, heart and nervous system. Males need 1.2 milligrams per day, while females need 1.0 milligrams per day. You can get this vitamin from fortified breads, cereals and pasta, meat, fish, dried beans and whole grains.
Vitamins B-2 and B-3
Similar to thiamin, the demand for riboflavin, or B-2, and niacin, or B-3, increases because they help the body turn food into energy. Teen males need 1.3 milligrams of riboflavin and 16 milligrams of niacin daily, while teenage girls need 1.0 milligram and 14 milligrams, respectively. You’ll find riboflavin in meat, eggs, legumes, nuts, dairy and green leafy vegetables. Niacin is found in fish, poultry, red meat, fortified cereals and peanuts.
Due to increased tissue synthesis during growth, teenagers need more vitamin B-6. It is also important for normal nerve and brain function, and it helps make red blood cells. Teen males need 1.3 milligrams per day, while teenage girls need 1.2 milligrams. Vitamin B-6 is found in a wide variety of foods, but rich sources include liver, fatty fish and nuts.
Biotin and Choline
Biotin, or vitamin B-7, aids in metabolism in the body. Signs of biotin deficiency include thinning hair, scaly rash on face, depression and fatigue. All issues that teens do not want to deal with. MedlinePlus.com reports that if you smoke you have a greater risk of biotin deficiency. The recommended amount of biotin is 20 micrograms per day for a 13 year old, and 25 micrograms per day for ages 14 through 19. Biotin is found in small amounts in most foods. The Linus Pauling Institute reports that choline is not technically a vitamin but it is an essential nutrient. Choline may protect you from heart disease, cancer and declining brain function. Teens that are 13 need 375 milligrams per day, while 14 through 19 year old boys need 550 milligrams. Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 need 400 milligrams and at 19 years need 425 milligrams. That amount increases to 450 milligrams if pregnant. Good sources of choline include beef liver, eggs, broccoli, brussel sprouts, salmon and shrimp.
Other B Vitamins
Folic acid and vitamin B-12 play integral roles in the synthesis of new red blood cells. Folate is also required to make new DNA, and it is of special concern in females capable of becoming pregnant. The recommendation for teenage boys and girls is 400 micrograms of folate per day and 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily. You can get these vitamins from fish, meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, legumes, green leafy vegetables and fortified grain products.
Vitamins A and D
These vitamins act as antioxidants and are required for new cell growth. Vitamin A promotes healthy skin and vision. Males need 900 micrograms of vitamin A, while females need 700 micrograms. Teens need vitamin D for their rapid skeletal growth. It strengthens bones by aiding the absorption of calcium. Males and females between the ages of 9 and 18 require 15 micrograms per day. You can get vitamin D by being exposed to sunshine or by eating eggs, fish oil and fortified foods.
Vitamins C and E
Teens need 15 milligrams of vitamin E daily, and you’ll find it naturally in sources such as vegetable oils, nuts and avocados. Vitamin C forms collagen and aids in wound healing. Teen males need 75 milligrams of vitamin C per day, and teen girls need 65 milligrams. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will give you adequate quantities of this vitamin.
- Krause's Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy; L. Kathleen Mahan and Syliva Escott-Stump
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Individuals
- TeensHealth: Vitamins
- MedlinePlus.com: Biotin
- Linus Pauling Institute: Choline