10 Essential Micronutrients Every Teenaged Girl Needs
Created by Neetu Ralhan Updated on Jan 21, 2021
Advaita was a happy and energetic 13-year-old. Lately, she seemed very lethargic and irritable. Her mum knew only too well that the lack of activity and the temper tantrums were part and parcel of teenage and along with it also came peer pressure, performance pressure, and teen hormones. Her doting father, on the other hand, was persistent to find a plausible explanation of his daughter’s new persona.
Interestingly, this time mum’s diagnosis was not entirely accurate. Daddy’s perseverance did pay off and a conversation with the family physician revealed that our young lady might be anemic, later confirmed by a simple blood test.
Due to lack of awareness, we rarely attribute our teens’ behavioral issues to a nutritional deficiency. Micronutrients, although required in small quantities, play a vital role in the growth and functioning of the human body. According to the WHO, most modern diseases are triggered by micronutrient deficiencies. Your child’s diet in her teen years will determine how she fares against the onslaught of lifestyle diseases during adulthood.
10 Essential Micronutrients That Your Teen-aged Girl Needs
Here is a quick reference list you may use to ensure that your young lady is getting all the vital nutrients she needs to grow into a healthy adult.
*RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) - The quantity of a nutrient which should be consumed daily to maintain good health.
*Fortified foods – Processed foods to which certain nutrients have been added in order to improve their nutrient content.
With puberty beginning as early as 11 years, young girls are especially vulnerable to iron deficiency as they begin to lose more iron through menstruation. Statistics show that almost 50% of Indian adolescents aged 15-19 years are anemic. Iron deficiency can cause poor physical and mental performance, fatigue, irritability and mood swings.
RDA: 9-13 years – 8 mg/day | 14-18 years – 15 mg/day
Food sources: Green leafy vegetables, beetroot, oatmeal, lentils, beans, cereals, whole grain bread, nuts, chicken, fish.
No one needs more calcium than a girl in her teens. Your child’s calcium intake in her teen years will have a lifelong impact on her bone health as half of her adult bone mass will be acquired in her teens. Adequate calcium intake is essential to ensure that she will have sufficient bone density when her body begins to steal calcium from her bones in later years.
RDA: 9-18 years – 1300 mg/day
Food sources: Milk, curd, cheese, ice cream, calcium fortified breakfast cereal, spinach, goat milk, kale, cinnamon, sesame seeds, flax seeds, almonds.
#3. FOLIC ACID
Folic acid or folate is the other name for Vitamin B9. The female body requires folate to make new cells and to support growth spurts and reproductive health. A diet rich in folic acid will help your daughter cope with pregnancy and childbirth in the following years. Folate is found in natural foods while folic acid is the man made a form of B9 found in vitamin supplements and packaged foods.
RDA: 9-13 years – 0.3 mg/day | 14-18 years – 0.4 mg/day
Food sources: Folate – Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, peas, citrus fruits, orange juice, papaya, strawberries, banana, peas, nuts, beans. Folic acid – fortified breakfast cereals, fortified bread, and pasta.
#4. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is the ultimate skin food - an impetus you could use to convince your teenager to eat healthily. Vitamin C helps in the formation of collagen, essential to keep dull skin, sagging and wrinkles at bay. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, which fights cell damage and premature aging.
RDA: 9-13 years – 45 mg / day | 14-18 years – 65 mg/day
Food sources: Amla, orange, grapefruit, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, pomegranate, papaya, guava, broccoli cauliflower, capsicum, lemons, spinach, and other leafy vegetables.
Your little girl is not so little anymore. Her growing body needs magnesium to form healthy bones, to regulate her blood sugar and blood pressure and to carry out close to 300 biological functions. Magnesium deficiency may lead to stomach problems, nausea, vomiting, irritability, confusion, and even depression.
RDA: 9-13 years – 240 mg/day | 14-18 years – 360 mg/day
Food sources: Bananas, green vegetables, whole grains, peanuts, peanut butter, coriander, cumin, basil, basil, cinnamon, almonds, cashews, apricots, soy, unprocessed flour, whole grains, peanut butter, and whole wheat bread.
[Also Read: 10 Essentials Nutrients for Your Teenager Boy]
Zinc is vital for optimal growth and development in young ladies. It activates height and weight gain, controls acne and can also help ease premenstrual symptoms. It is also used in treating anorexia. Zinc deficiency can hamper physical and mental growth, cause dull hair, brittle nails, loss of appetite, lethargy and slow healing of wounds.
RDA: 9-13 years – 8 mg/day | 14-18 years – 9 mg/day
Food Sources: Beans, legumes, nuts, whole grains, milk, dairy products, kidney beans, chickpeas, oysters, red meat, poultry, crabs, fish, lobsters, fortified breakfast cereal.
Adolescents need potassium for a healthy nervous system, formation of muscles and to maintain the body’s acid balance. Low potassium intake during early years may lead to hypertension and other chronic diseases in later life.
RDA: 9-13 years – 4,500 mg/day | 14-18 years – 4,700 mg/day
Food sources: Dairy products, bananas, kiwi, orange, watermelon, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, peanuts, raisins, almonds.
Girls need an iodine-rich diet to avoid developmental problems. The thyroid gland needs iodine to make hormones, which support ovulation, fertility and brain development. Iodine deficiency can cause thyroid problems, stunted growth, and mental retardation.
RDA: 9-13 years – 0.12 mg/day | 14-18 years – 0.15 mg/day
Food sources: Iodized salt, milk, yogurt, fruits, vegetables, codfish, tuna fish, shrimps, grain products, ice cream.
#9. VITAMIN A
A girl needs Vitamin A for healthy hair, skin and vision, proper cell growth, maintenance of vital body organs and for the development of her immune system. Low levels of Vitamin A can affect vision, bone growth and immunity.
RDA: 9-13 years – 0.6 mg/day | 14-18 years – 0.7 mg/day
Food sources: Carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet potato, papaya, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, orange and yellow vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals.
Silicon is also known as the beauty mineral. It supports healthy hair, skin, and nails by supporting the production of collagen. It helps in the formation of bones, enhances bone mass and helps maintain elasticity of the skin.
RDA: No RDA has been defined for Silicon.
Food Sources: Apples, orange, banana, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, onions, peanuts, almonds, oats, wheat,
While it may be an uphill task to get your teen to eat healthy at all times, sharing how an unbalanced diet can impact their health may help in driving home the point!
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