The teenage years are the time when girl stake proper nutrition for granted. Busy schedules coupled with the pressure to be thin may lead to poor eating habits and even eating disorders.
Fortunately, knowing the basic components of nutrition can help you remain healthy, boost your energy levels, maintain a healthy, and fight future diseases.
People grow faster during adolescence than any other time in their life. You will need about 2,200 calories per day just to keep up with your growing body. Those calories should come from wide array of foods such as whole grains, good "fats", lots of fruits and vegetables, and lean protein.
Avoid empty calories – those that come from junk foods, and fast foods – and concentrate on getting a diet of foods that contain plenty of the vitamins and minerals that you need.
Teenage girls have special dietary needs. Helpguide.com lists down the building blocks of nutrition for teenage girls and offers suggestions on how you can include them in your diet:
You need 1300 mg of calcium per day. Calcium is needed to build healthy bones. The body absorbs and stores more calcium during adolescence than in any other time. Inadequate calcium intake can lead to weak bones and osteoporosis later on. Calcium also helps nerves and muscles function properly.
Get your daily calcium requirements from dairy products, fortified orange juice, fortified soymilk, tofu, beans, or spinach. Drink your hot cocoa with milk, have yogurt or cheese sandwich for a snack.
Adolescent girls need about 15 mg of iron per day. Iron aids in transporting oxygen throughout the body to give you energy. Vegetarians and girls who menstruate have low levels of iron, so it is important that they make sure to get enough.
The body absorbs iron better from animal sources than vegetable sources. Animal sources of iron include: red meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. If you are vegetarian, your source of iron include: egumes, fortified cereals, almonds. But you might want to consider taking supplements.
Folic acid helps the body produce DNA. It also aids in the growth spurt that adolescents experience. Folic acid is most important during a girl’s childbearing years. A pre-natal vitamin containing folic acid is prescribed to help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Teen girls need about 400 mg of folic acid per day. Good sources of this nutrient include: fortified cereals, breads, and pasta with added folic acid. Folic acid also occurs naturally in the form of folate in sunflower seeds, black-eyed peas, black beans, and orange juice.
Zinc helps protect the skin and strengthen the immune system, preventing skin breakouts, and protecting you from diseases such as the flu. Adolescent girls need about 8-9 mg or zinc per day. Good sources of zinc include: steak, hamburger, dairy products, fortified cereals, whole grains, and soy products.