Is It Safe for a 14-Year-Old to Drink Protein Shakes?

Although some 14-year-olds have tried -- or are thinking about trying -- protein shakes, there are some safety concerns for kids who take dietary supplements. A study published in "2012" in "Pediatrics" found that almost 35 percent of teenagers, with an average age of 14 years old, report using protein powders or shakes. Always talk with your child's pediatrician before suggesting any type of dietary supplement -- including protein shakes.

Plastic scoops filled with powder for protein shakes. (Image: marekuliasz/iStock/Getty Images)

Daily Protein Needs

Most teens easily meet their daily protein intake, without using protein shakes, by eating a variety of protein-rich foods throughout the day. According to the Institute of Medicine, 14-year-old boys need 52 grams of protein daily and 14-year-old girls require 46 grams of protein each day. Consuming 3 cups of low-fat milk, 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter provides 59 grams of protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

When It’s Okay

If your teen is underweight, ask his doctor if taking a high-calorie, protein-rich nutrition shake between meals to help boost calorie intake is appropriate. Although underweight teens can increase calorie intake by simply eating nutrient-dense foods -- such as nuts, seeds, nut butters and dried fruits -- nutrition shakes often contain the proper balance of protein, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and are convenient for teens on the go.

Concerns

Because protein shakes are marketed and sold as supplements, they are not tightly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Although the FDA is responsible for removing supplements from stores if they are found to be unsafe in the general population, these products do not require FDA approval before hitting store shelves, note TeensHealth. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency reports that because dietary supplements are not tightly regulated, some may contain prohibited substances or ingredients that are not listed on the supplement facts label. Furthermore, ingesting too much protein from supplements can be harmful for teens.

Homemade Protein Shakes

If your teen is seeking the convenience and taste of a protein shake, but without the extra cost or safety concerns of protein supplements, make your own protein shake so you know exactly what your teen is getting. Creating your own nutritious protein shake can be as simple as blending together low-fat milk or soy milk, yogurt, fresh fruit, powdered milk, ice, and peanut, almond or cashew butter.

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