With the teen years come a tremendous amount of physical, biological and emotional changes. This is a significant time for physical growth and sexual maturation. Physical growth in this age increases the need for nutrients and calories.
Out of this, nutrition is an important determinant of physical growth and needs due attention. This is the time when the teen should develop a positive relationship with the right food.
Why do teenagers need healthy food and good nutrition?
Teenagers go through major physical changes in puberty. They need to eat healthy food and provide the body with the right nutrition to fuel these physical changes. Moreover, inadequate nutritional intake during adolescence can also affect the reproductive years and beyond.
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Key Nutrients for Teens
Like any other age, teenagers also requires major nutrients including protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins to support different body functions.
However, due to body physiology during adolescence, places extra nutritional demand on the body. Different nutrients are responsible to fulfill various demands of the teenage body.
- Proteins – Required for bodybuilding and help in the repair and maintenance of body tissues.
- Fats – High-energy foods and a source of energy. They also make the food more palatable and provide fat-soluble vitamins.
- Carbohydrates – The main source of energy.
- Vitamins & Minerals – Enable the body to use other nutrients and also play an important role in the growth, repair and regulation of vital body functions.
- Iron & Calcium – Required to manage rapid physical growth during adolescence. Calcium needs during adolescence are greater due to the rapid increase in lean body mass and skeletal growth.
- Zinc – Helps in growth and sexual maturation.
A balanced diet provides all nutrients in required amounts and proportions for maintaining health and general well being. It makes a small provision for extra nutrients to withstand a short duration of leanness. It can be achieved through a blend of the above-mentioned food groups. How much a teen should eat depends on their individual needs.
Along with good nutrition, physical activity during adolescence is important to build muscles, bones, and lift the teen’s spirits.
Whether a teen looks and feels too skinny or too fat, it is important to focus his or her attention on eating well and eating healthy and staying fit.