Teens Did You Know

  • unhealthy dieting can stop you from growing to your full height? Your body needs calories and other nutrients to grow and develop fully. Most teens shouldn't "diet."
  • your bones take in the most calcium during your teen years and early twenties? The best sources are milk, yogurt, and cheese, and most teens need the equivalent of three cups of milk daily.
  • if you don't eat breakfast, your body is like a computer without power?
  • eating cookies, candy, or other sweet foods before an athletic event won't give you an energy boost?
  • for girls, when you have a menstrual period you lose iron? If you don't eat iron-rich foods to replace this loss, you may feel weak and tired.
  • pizza and hamburgers are healthful food choices, especially if you know which toppings to choose (veggies, fruit, beans, lean protein)-and you eat sensible amounts?
  • eating smart and moving more help you feel good, look good, and do your best!

sooner, but for now, there are too many unanswered questions to know why.)

How your teenage child grows—when, how, and how much—has more to do with genes than with food choices. However, smart eating does help determine if your child grows to his or her maximum height potential—with strong bones and a fit body.

All teens need enough calcium for bone growth and strength, protein for every body cell including muscles, carbohydrates and fats for energy, vitamins and minerals for the "sparks" that make it all happen, and enough water. Energy and nutrient needs increase to meet the growth demands of adolescence. Teens need understanding parents who appreciate that their adolescent's growth pattern, although different from a friend's, is perfectly normal.

Food Energy: How Much?

Teens need somewhat more calories than when they were a bit younger. Teenage boys on average need 1,800 to 2,600 calories a day if they're eleven to thirteen years, and 2,200 to 3,200 calories a day if they're fourteen to eighteen years of age. Teenage girls need more, too: 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day if they're ages eleven to thirteen, and 1,800 to 2,400 calories a day if they're age fourteen to eighteen. Their gender, body size, growth rate, and activity level specifically determine how many calories they need. Those involved in strenuous physical activity such as soccer, basketball, football, or other sports may need 3,500 calories (more or less) daily.

Nutrients: For Some, An All-Time High

Many nutrient recommendations go up during adolescence. Check the Dietary Reference Intakes in the Appendices to see how much. As teens consume more food-group foods, they also get a nutrient and food energy boost to meet the demands of growth, health, and perhaps more physical activity. Typically, teens need to eat more fiber-rich foods, too.

Several nutrients may need attention in a teenager's food choices: calcium, iron, and perhaps zinc. That's usually due to poor food choices, or for girls especially, simply not eating enough. Dairy foods and lean protein foods provide these nutrients. Potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and fiber likely need attention, too; eating enough fruit, vegetables, whole-grain foods, and healthy oils can provide enough of these. Read on to learn more.

Pregnancy affects a teenage girl's nutrition needs. Like any pregnancy, the need for nutrients and energy goes up; for teens, the recommendations are higher than for adult women, for their own growth and development, and for the developing fetus. For more on the nutrition needs ofa teenage pregnancy, see "For Pregnant Teens: Good Nutrition" in chapter 17.

Calcium: A Growing Issue. "I'm sixteen, and I've stopped growing. So why do I need milk?" Actually, bones keep on growing into the adult years. Even when teenagers reach their adult height, bones continue to grow stronger as they become more dense. In fact, almost half of an adult's bone mass forms during the teen years. The stronger bones become during adolescence, the lower the risk of osteoporosis later on. Yet, only about 14 percent of girls and about 36 percent of boys ages twelve to nineteen in the United States consume the recommended amount of calcium!

Osteoporosis is really an adolescent health problem that manifests itself in later years. Teenagers—

children, too—who don't consume enough calcium put their bones at risk for the long term. They may start their adult years with a calcium deficit in their bones. With bone loss that comes as a natural part of aging, they have less to draw on, and their risk for osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, goes up.

Teens are advised to consume enough calcium-rich foods so their bones become as strong as they can be. For children and teens ages nine through eighteen, the equivalent of three cups of calcium-rich dairy foods each day provide enough calcium for growing bones. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes, 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily is considered an Adequate Intake (AI). An 8-ounce glass of milk has about 300 milligrams of calcium.

What foods are teens' best calcium sources? Milk Group foods including milk, yogurt, and cheese— although a variety of foods have smaller amounts of calcium. Milk also contains other nutrients essential to healthy bone and tooth development: vitamins D, A, and B12, potassium, magnesium, and protein. Canned salmon and sardines with bones, as well as some vegetables (such as mustard greens, collard greens, okra, broccoli, and bok choy), supply calcium. And some prepared foods are calcium-fortified, including some juice, soy drinks, breads, and breakfast cereal. For more on calcium and a list of calcium-rich foods, see "Calcium: A Closer Look" in chapter 4.

Why don't many teens consume enough calcium-rich dairy foods? Perhaps there's no milk on hand at

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Healthy Weight Loss For Teens

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