A Teen’s Healthy Eating Tips

A quality diet during these years can also help predict a lifetime of good health

Need-to-Know Nutrition for Ages 14 through 18

Busy social lives, extracurricular activities, and pressures to succeed in school might not leave many teens with extra time to think about nutrition. And while it may seem easy at this age to pull an all-nighter by guzzling energy drinks, no body can keep up that pace forever. Optimizing nutrition can help maintain stamina for the long haul—by supporting instead of compromising well-being. A quality diet during these years can also help predict a lifetime of good health.

DRIs Defined

Remember to get enough....

Calcium: The bulk of bone development takes place during the teen years, but many teens don’t get enough of this mineral.

Choline: The body makes some choline, but the rest needs to come from the diet.

Folate: Folate helps lower the risk of a group of birth defects called neural tube defects. Girls and women who are or may become pregnant need to get enough folate to ensure the health of their unborn baby.

Iodine: This nutrient is especially important for pregnant girls and women. Iodine deficiency in utero can lead to severe mental retardation in the infant, miscarriage, and stillbirth. Severe deficiency is uncommon in most places, but even mild deficiencies may cause developmental problems in babies and children.

Iron: Teenage girls, pregnant girls and women, and girls and women with heavy menstrual periods are at increased risk for iron deficiency and anemia. Vegetarian teens may need to get about two times as much iron in their diets as meat eaters, as the iron in plant foods isn’t absorbed as easily.

Vitamin A: Food and supplement labels list vitamin A in International Units (IUs), but as the availability of vitamin A to the body varies depending on the source, nutritionists use “Retinol Activity Equivalents” (1 IU of vitamin A (retinol) = 0.3 mcg RAE).

Vitamin B12: Vegetarian or vegan teens might be at risk for B12 deficiency. The risk is even greater for pregnant and breastfeeding girls and women. Severe vitamin B12 deficiency in these groups can cause irreversible neurological damage to the baby.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key player in immune system and collagen health.

Vitamin D: Teens who don’t get enough sunshine and those who avoid animal products may not be getting enough of this important vitamin.

Who needs more and how to get it

Don't overdo it