Although vitamins are necessary for good health throughout your entire life, the ones to focus on change with life's stages. For example, a child requires a different amount of certain vitamins than the elderly. As you're finishing up your growth spurt and entering adulthood, though, focus on a few key vitamins to ensure proper development during these busy, life-changing years.
Your bones continue growing throughout the latter part of your teen years and even into your early 20s in some cases. You should be getting plenty of vitamin D to promote calcium absorption so that your bones grow to be as strong as possible. From age 14 to adulthood, your recommended dietary allowance is 15 micrograms of vitamin D each day, a guideline established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. The recommendation doesn't change based on gender or pregnancy.
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a type of B vitamin that is crucial for young adults. During your final stages of growth and development, you need folic acid to help cells form, evolve and divide. While both young men and women need folic acid for cellular functions, it's particularly important for young women. Folic acid supports rapid cell growth that occurs during pregnancy. It can prevent neural tube defects that happen early on, often before you know you're pregnant. Whether you are male or female, your recommendation is 400 micrograms daily. If you are pregnant or nursing, though, you'll have to increase your consumption to 600 micrograms and 500 micrograms, respectively.
Vitamin C's role isn't just supporting your immune system to keep you healthy. It's also vital to producing collagen. Healthy collagen ensures that your bones and muscles stay connected during and after your final stages of growth. Collagen also ties tissues together and heals wounds when you have an injury. Young men require 75 milligrams of vitamin C up until age 18, then 90 milligrams daily thereafter. As a young woman, you'll need 65 milligrams per day through age 18, then 75 milligrams a day after that. During pregnancy, however, aim for 80 to 85 milligrams daily, and if you breast-feed, consume 115 to 120 milligrams each day.
One of vitamin A's biggest jobs is preserving eye tissues so that you have optimal vision. But vitamin A is also critical for young adults because it helps bones continue to grow, makes teeth develop and allows cells to divide during development. Beginning at age 14 through adulthood, men need 900 micrograms daily, while women require 700 micrograms each day. This only goes up for young women if you're pregnant or lactating. During pregnancy, you'll need 750 micrograms a day through age 18 and 770 micrograms daily after that point. If you nurse, aim for 1,200 micrograms per day through 18 years of age, increasing to 1,300 micrograms daily in adulthood.
- Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements
- Colorado State University Extension: Fat-Soluble Vitamins
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins
- NHS Choices: Symptoms of Puberty
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation: Vitamins & Minerals