Daily Nutritional Requirements: Teens

Favorable nutrition is essential for everyone, but it’s crucially important for teenagers. The specific nutritional needs of teens differ from adults due to the developmental and metabolic diversity. Teens should focus on eating a nutrient dense diet that has variety, balance and moderation of food choices combined with physical activity to support a healthy weight. Foods that are nutrient dense are naturally lower in fat and calories but loaded with vitamins and essential minerals. 


Teenage boys: recommended to consume 2800 calories per day

Teenage girls: recommended to consume 2200 calories per day

If your child is an athlete or in certain developments stage (puberty) the caloric and nutrient need is greater. 


Teens need an average of 45-60 grams of protein each day. They can get this from meats, fish and dairy. Teens who are vegetarians may need to intake more soy or nut-based foods to boost their intake


Teens should aim to consume a minimum of 130 grams of carbs per day, which equates to 60 percent of daily calories. Finding your carbohydrates in peas, beans or vegetables are a much better choice than simple carbs (sugars, syrups and sweetened drinks) Whole grains such as brown rice is an excellent source of complex carbs. 


Healthy fats guide the body to stay energized and absorb essential vitamins such as A, D, and K. There are 3 types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are found in red meat and full fat dairy. Monounsaturated fat is found in many foods and oils. It’s been mentioned to improve cholesterol levels and lowers blood sugar. Polyunsaturated fats found in plant-based oils and foods. Avocados are a great example of healthy fats and are considered a superfood because they are linked to improving blood flow to the brain. Other excellent sources of healthy fats include nuts, whole eggs, salmon, coconut oil and olive oil. 

Calcium & Iron

Take a step away from soda and other sweetened beverages. These types of beverages can disrupt the bodies way of absorbing calcium. Bone calcium will start to decrease in young adulthood and teens not getting enough calcium have a risk of developing fractures down the road. Teens are recommended to get around 1300 mg of calcium per day.  Calcium rich foods include leafy greens, sesame seeds and forms of dairy. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies seen across a life span. Teen boys should aim for 8-11 mg of iron per day while females need 15-18 mg per day. 

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