Have You Ever Wondered

.. . besides drinking milk, how can teens keep their bones healthy? Like milk, yogurt, cheese, and pudding are all calcium-rich, bone-building foods. In addition, calcium-fortified soy beverage and tofu, as well as calcium-fortified juice and dark green vegetables, provide calcium, too. Regular weight-bearing activities such as dancing, soccer, running, weight lifting, tennis, and volleyball are important since they trigger bone tissue to form. Going easy on soft drinks if they edge out calcium-rich milk is smart advice. Smoking also may have a negative effect on bone formation; teens who smoke are smart to kick the habit for many reasons!

home, or perhaps they don't like it. Maybe kids haven't made a habit of drinking milk with fast food. Or perhaps soft drinks compete. If milk is cold, convenient, and "cool," your teen more likely will drink it. Tip: Fill the fridge with flavored milk or yogurt drinks sold in "cool," single-serving containers.

Many teenage girls misguidedly link milk drinking to their fear of getting fat, including teens on fad diets or those with eating disorders. Yet those who watch calories can consume low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Eight ounces of fat-free milk supplies fewer calories than 8 ounces of a soft drink or juice: only 86 calories and almost no fat, yet fat-free milk has as much calcium as whole milk!

Vegan eating patterns and lactose intolerance may be barriers, too. In either case, teens have plenty of practical ways to get enough calcium. See chapter 20 for more about vegetarian eating, and chapter 21 for more about lactose intolerance.

For more about bone health during adulthood, see "Osteoporosis: Reduce the Risks " in chapter 22.

Iron: The Fatigue Connection. Does your teenager seem chronically tired? Fatigue may come from too little sleep, an exhausting schedule, strenuous activity (a good kind of fatigue), or the emotional ups and downs of adolescence. Feeling tired also may be a symptom of a health problem or low iron levels in blood.

Iron is part of blood's hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to body cells. Once there, oxygen helps cells produce energy. When iron is in short supply, there's less oxygen available to produce energy—hence fatigue.

Iron needs go up dramatically in the teen years. During childhood (ages nine to thirteen) both boys and girls need about 8 milligrams of iron daily, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes. For adolescence, more muscle mass and a greater blood supply demand more iron, so the recommendation jumps to 15 milligrams of iron daily for girls ages fourteen to eighteen, and 11 milligrams daily for boys that age. Girls need more to replace iron losses from their menstrual flow. See "Menstrual Cycle: More Iron for Women " in chapter 17.

Many teens—girls especially—don't consume enough iron. Poor food choices or restricting food to lose weight are two common reasons. Kids who don't eat meat regularly may not consume enough either. Unlike calcium, the effects of low iron intake can be apparent during the teenage years.

Iron comes from a variety of foods: meat, poultry, and seafood as well as legumes, enriched grain products, and some vegetables. For example, the iron in some common foods is:

  • 3-ounce hamburger—2.5 milligrams
  • 2 cup of cooked, baked, or refried beans— 2 to 3 milligrams
  • 1 slice of enriched bread—1 milligram
  • 1 cup of iron-fortified breakfast cereal—4 milligrams (more or less). For cereal, check the Nutrition Facts on food labels for the specific amount. For information on reading labels, see "What's on the Label?" in chapter 11.

Teens who drink orange juice with their morning toast or cereal get an iron boost, too. Its vitamin C content makes iron from plant sources and eggs more usable by the body. Kids who just grab toast to eat at the bus stop, but skip the juice, don't get the full benefit of the iron in bread. For some teens, vitamin C is a problem nutrient, too.

For more on iron in a healthful diet, see "Iron: A Closer Look" in chapter 4.

Zinc: Also Essential. Although it gets less attention, zinc often comes up short for teens. Besides other functions, zinc is essential for growth and sexual maturation. For teens who don't eat meat and other animal-based foods, a lack of zinc may affect development.

MyPyramid for Teens

MyPyramid, with its five food groups and healthy oils, is meant for teens, too! How much from the food groups for teens? That depends on how many calories they need. The more active they are, the more calories they need—and the more they can eat. Check the Appendices to estimate calorie needs and find a food-group pattern that matches.

Here's top-line food group advice for teens. For more guidance, refer to chapter 10, "Planning to Eat."

• Grains Group—make their calories count. "Carbs" should provide most food energy for teens. The best choices have more fiber, and less saturated fats, trans

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