Adolescent Nutritional Needs
Adolescent nutritional needs are much different and more important than any given time in life with the exception of women that is pregnant or those that are breast feeding. It is this time frame that growth spurts occur and this is also the time when the vast majority of junk foods are introduced. For these reasons, adolescents between the ages of ten years old to their late teens have some special needs.
This period of growth is often associated with teenagers, which implies that the real growth occurs in the early teen years, which technically begins at age 13. However, the reality is that it begins much earlier. Girls will begin their initial growth spurts between the ages of 10 to 11 years old, and boys will begin this spurt generally 2 years or so later, between the ages of 12 and 13. Although there is nothing that can replace a well-balanced diet during these critical years, the reality is that not all adolescents will eat a balanced diet.
What you can do:
Adolescent nutritional needs all start with what parents can do to help their children during these critical formative years and there are several important things you can do in this process.
The first thing you can do is to try to avoid soft drinks as diligently as you can for one very important reason; phosphorus. Although phosphorus is a critical nutrient, it is very dangerous for young maturing bodies in this form because of the high quantity and low quality that is found in soft drinks. Both of these combined can have severe effects on perhaps the most critical of all nutrients in these formative years; calcium.
If an adolescent consumes too much, it interferes with the proper balance of calcium in their body and as a result, it can have devastating effects on their bones and teeth throughout their lifetime.
However, there are also several other things that you can do such as steer them in the direction to find out about good nutrition on their own.
As any parent can testify to, during these years you suddenly become quite lacking in knowledge, as your child thinks they have all of the answers. But by encouraging them to help to select the family food menus as well as getting them involved in cooking, they will naturally begin to learn several things on their own. It is also a very good time to experiment with different types of food groups, especially from different cultures, as this makes an excellent scenario to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different food groups.
But there are also things that should you should do to set the example. If you do not want them to eat a lot of sugar, starches, or soft drinks; don't not buy them. Also try to make a habit of introducing snacks that are healthy as we all know that in most cases these developing young adults will usually eat anything in their sight. This is also the perfect time to begin steaming, broiling, as well as baking foods instead of frying them to avoid the extra added fats. Keeping plenty of fresh water is also very important, as water is perhaps the most important nutrient during this time frame.
Although vitamins are extremely important in adolescent nutritional needs, minerals are absolutely critical and leading this list in calcium. When your developing child drinks milk or eats cheese, the calcium that is found in these sources is immediately absorbed into their small intestine. From there, it goes into their blood stream where the proper amounts are controlled by a substance that is referred to as parathyroid hormone.
If an adolescent does not get enough calcium, this substance immediately starts to break their bones down for one simple reason; their body needs calcium.
This can have devastating effects as it will begin to weaken their bones. However, if the inverse occurs and they are receiving adequate supplies of calcium, their body will natural conserve both more calcium as well as more bone. This is why soft drinks are so dangerous during these years. Phosphorus, in its pure form, is another mineral that is critical in this process as it combines with calcium to form a very hard substance that virtually creates the basic groundwork for strong bones as well as teeth. It is critical to understand that over 99 percent of all calcium that in the human body is stored in the skeleton, and an inadequate supply in these formative years can have lifetime consequences.
However, the benefits of calcium does not end here, as it is also critical in adolescent nutritional needs as it helps with normal heartbeats as well as proper nerve and muscle functions. It also is required by all living cells to both send and receive messages form hormones as well as neurotransmitters. The minerals magnesium and zinc are also critical as they help the bones to form density. Once all of these are combined, your adolescent's bone development can keep up with their growth.
Adolescent nutritional needs next turn to vitamins and leading this list is Folic acid and vitamin B12 as both are critical in synthesizing the tissues in the body. This is always an important process, but in this stage it is occurring very rapidly. However, B12 also does several other very important jobs in the body as it helps to control blood levels of a substance known as homocysteine which can be very toxic to a developing adults brain cells. It also helps to activate the clotting process, which is also very important, as this age group in general suffers more cuts and scrapes than any other age group.
Vitamin B12 also helps in the production of red blood cells, which can stop anemia before it ever starts. Young girls especially need this vitamin as their body may be shocked during their first menstrual cycles. Adolescent nutritional needs will also include Vitamins B1, B2, as well as B3 as their caloric needs increase.
Vitamin B1, or thiamin, is essential as in helps provide energy to the all parts of the body and if this nutrient is inadequate, it can affect the brain. It is a water soluble vitamin and the body can become depleted of this nutrient as quickly as 14 days, and once this occurs, the damages are just as quick. B2, also known as riboflavin, helps to transform amino acids into neurotransmitters which are chemicals that are extremely important for thinking and memory development. If there is a deficiency of this nutrient, it can also cause a shortage of red blood cells.
Vitamins B6 and D are also critical for tissue as well as bone growth and development, and Vitamins A, C, and E help to complete both the structure as well as the function of newly formed cells that are changing very rapidly in these developing bodies.
Adolescent nutritional needs are critical during these very formative years, and for this reason, a well-balanced diet is very important. However, the reality is that this is not going to happen daily even under the best of circumstances, and for this reason a liquid multi-vitamin supplement should be used. Liquid forms will absorb in these young developing bodies at a 90 percent of higher ratio and this is exactly what they need during this critical time frame.
I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a "mutt" that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.
He found us, nearly starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds.
After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the little guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and today is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.
After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.
Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.
I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process.
Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website, Liquid Vitamins & Minerals for Humans & Pets - http://www.liquid-vitamins-minerals-humans-pets.com/
Added: 16 марта 2011
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