A girl's teenage years are an important period of physical growth, reproductive development and cognitive maturation. Adolescent girls deal with the pressures of school and social life and an often demanding schedule of studying, sports and social engagements. Although a balanced diet is the best way for a teen girl to get the nutrients she needs, it's not always possible, and a multivitamin can help fill in the gaps. Know what to look for before you head to the supplement aisle.
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What Teen Girls Need
A typical teen multivitamin will contain vitamins A, E, C, D and K, as well as some B vitamins. Some may contain minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and selenium. Each day, teen girls need 700 micrograms of vitamin A, 15 milligrams of vitamin E, 65 milligrams of vitamin C, 15 micrograms of vitamin D and 75 micrograms of vitamin K. They also need 1 milligram of thiamine, 1 milligram of riboflavin, 14 milligrams of niacin, 1.2 milligrams of vitamin B-6, 400 micrograms of folate, 2.4 micrograms of B-12 and 25 micrograms of biotin. The recommended intakes for calcium, iron, zinc and selenium for teen girls are 1,300 milligrams; they should also get 15 milligrams of iron, 9 milligrams of zinc and 55 micrograms of selenium.
Key Vitamins for Teen Girls
The best multivitamin for teen girls will contain adequate amounts of key nutrients most important for this stage of growth and development. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, teen girls are at risk of not getting enough of vitamins A, C, D and E as well as B-6, folate and B-12. Vitamin A is crucial for healthy growth and development, with even small deficiencies negatively affecting bone growth and sexual maturation. In a study published in "Pediatrics" in August 2011, higher folate levels were linked to better academic achievement in Swedish teens. Most teens don't get enough vitamin D, according to the Teens Health website, and this nutrient is crucial for healthy bone development in growing girls.
Key Minerals for Teen Girls
Assess your teen girl's mineral needs and choose the best supplement to fulfill those needs. If your teen girl has heavy periods, she may need extra iron to make up for the iron lost in blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, iron-deficiency anemia is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency in the United States. Teen girls also need more calcium than older women because of their growing bones. The Linus Pauling Institute cites magnesium, potassium and zinc as being key minerals for adolescent girls, as well.
Choosing the Best Supplement
Ultimately, the best supplement for your teen girl is an individual matter, based on her specific dietary needs. For example, if your teen daughter eats a vegetarian diet or is very athletic, she may need more of certain nutrients than other girls. Discuss your teen's needs with her doctor to identify areas in which your teen's diet may be lacking. Also, take steps to improve your teen's diet by providing plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy or dairy alternatives, whole grains and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, olive oil and fatty fish at each meal.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Requirements of Adolescents Ages 14 to 18 Years
- Bayer HealthCare: One a Day
- GNC: GNC Milestones Teen - Multivitamin for Girls 12-17
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)
- Pediatrics: High Folate Intake Is Related to Better Academic Achievement In Swedish Adolescents
- TeensHealth: Vitamin D
- National Institutes of Health: Who Is at Risk for Iron-Deficiency Anemia?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency