Adolescence is the period of transition from childhood to adulthood

It is characterized by an increased rate of development and maturation, manifested through various physical and psychological changes. Nutrition at this age is very important as healthy habits acquired during childhood, in adolescence are established and even enhanced.

Dietary requirements during adolescence vary according to gender, rate of development and level of physical activity. Moreover, at this age, the maximum bone mineral density is gained.

Dietary requirements according to FEN (Spanish Nutrition Foundation)

  1. An increased energy intake is necessary in order to ensure normal adolescent development (taking place in non-adipose tissue, for instance) and also to provide for the daily activity of adolescents.
  2. Protein: It should represent 15% of the total calorie intake. Boys’ requirements are usually higher than girls’, especially when it comes to protein intake due to their increased muscle mass.
  3. Carbohydrates: The contribution of carbohydrates in an adolescent’s diet should correspond to 50 to 55% of the total calorie intake. It should derive from the consumption of complex carbohydrates, with wholegrain products being a good source (e.g. breakfast cereals, pasta and rice). At the same time, the consumption of refined sugar (white sugar) should be limited.
  4. Fats: They should represent 30 to 35% of the total calorie intake, mainly through goods fats, such as marine-derived Omega-3 fatty acids. Processed products with hydrogenated trans-fats should be avoided.

Vitamins: During adolescence, requirements in the following vitamins increase as follows:

Β1, Β2, Β3Contribute to carbohydrate metabolismSalmon, tuna, wholegrain cereals, sunflower seeds, pistachio, liver, pork, milk, eggs
Β12, Β9, Β6Contribute to protein metabolismSardines, mussels, cod, salmon, tuna, intestines, muesli, veal, rabbit
DContributes to bone developmentMackerel, salmon, herring, sardine, tuna, egg yolk, mushrooms (the human organism produces it when exposed to sunlight)

Minerals: During adolescence, requirements in particular vitamins increase as follows:

CalciumContributes to bone developmentSardines, milk and dairy products, broccoli, spinach, almonds, figs, oranges, white beans
IronHelps significantly once menstruation has begunMolluscs, shrimps, liver, red meat, cocoa, dark chocolate, pulses, oregano, cinnamon, spinach, sesame
ZincContributes significantly to developmentCrustaceans, molluscs, sardines, nuts, sunflower seeds, wholegrain cereals, pulses, green peas


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