The Most Essential Vitamins for Teenagers with DavidPaul Doyle Naturwise
The teenage years are one of the most exciting times in life. You are becoming more independent and self-reliant, you’ve developed your opinions, you’re starting to like (or even love) some of your classes, and puberty is kicking in, which leads to all kinds of new changes! But there’s one thing that may be lacking; nutrition.
DavidPaul Doyle of DavidPaul Doyle Naturwise spoke to us about what teens need to eat to ensure they’re getting the most out of these years and keeping their nutrition up. “Teenagers are still growing at a rapid pace…they haven’t yet finished growing, so they need adequate supplies of necessary nutrients for this process to proceed optimally,” Doyle said.
Inadequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in the teenage years can lead to physical and cognitive effects further down the track, making it difficult for a person’s mind and body to work at their best abilities.
“Most teenagers haven’t had enough exposure to vegetables yet, so they’re not getting enough of these important micronutrients that are necessary for optimal brain function,” Doyle said.
Doyle also mentioned that teenage girls are especially vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies, as they’re more likely to skip breakfast and eat junk food for lunch, reducing their intake of important vitamins and minerals.
However, there is one vitamin teens should be sure they’re getting enough of; Vitamin D. “Vitamin D deficiency is so rampant in teenagers and adults alike, and this is especially true in Australia – we’re not getting enough sun exposure.” The primary source of Vitamin D is through the skin’s contact with sunlight.
Doyle said that teenagers should aim to be outside every day for about half an hour if possible, or just stretch out their arms and face towards the sun for a few minutes. Doyle also suggested food as a source of Vitamin D, such as eggs and fish like salmon, rich in Omega-3.
Most multivitamins will supply the daily amount of Vitamin D required (which is roughly 10mcg/day).
Other key nutrients teenagers should aim to get from their diet include:
Calcium – for building bones and teeth.
Iron – for transporting oxygen around the body and breaking down food.
Magnesium – for muscle relaxation and blood sugar regulation.
Zinc – for cell division and tissue repair.
Vitamin A – essential for healthy eyesight, skin, and mucous membranes (such as in the nose).
Vitamin C creates collagen (the connective tissue in skin, blood vessels, and organs) and maintains bones.
B vitamins – for breaking down carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar) which is used by the body as energy.
Fiber – for gastrointestinal regularity and optimal functioning of the digestive system.
Dietary protein synthesizes hormones, enzymes, and hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells).
Teenagers should aim to eat a variety of foods with these nutrients daily. Luckily there are many easy ways to boost your intake – Doyle suggests including at least one serving of dark green vegetables each day and eating something with protein and healthy fats in every meal.