Healthy eating during adolescence stage

Adolescence is a transitional stage of development that occurs between childhood and adulthood from ages 10 to 19. This period is marked by significant physical, cognitive, and emotional changes as individuals move from childhood dependency to increased independence and autonomy. Adolescence is the second-fastest growth stage in life after infancy.

Adolescence is characterized by the onset of puberty, during which individuals experience development of secondary sexual characteristics, and reproductive maturity. Adolescents become more involved in social and cultural activities and they may also face challenges related to peer pressure, conformity, and the desire for social acceptance. The adolescent brain undergoes significant changes in areas associated with reward, motivation, and impulse control. This can lead to increased risk-taking behavior as individuals seek novelty, independence, and peer acceptance. It’s important to note that the timing and nature of adolescence can vary among individuals and cultures. While it is generally considered a challenging period, it is also a crucial stage of development that lays the foundation for adulthood. Nutrition is crucial during adolescence because this is a period of rapid growth, development, and maturation. Proper nutrition during this stage provides the necessary nutrients and energy to support physical, cognitive, and emotional changes.

It’s important for adolescents to consume a balanced and varied diet that includes a mix of nutrient-dense foods from all food groups. Additionally, staying hydrated is crucial for overall health, and water should be the primary beverage choice. Except for energy and protein, fatty acids, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins and fiber are required additionally.

  • Protein: Essential for growth, repair of tissues, and the development of muscles. Good sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, lentils, and nuts.
  • Calcium: Vital for bone development and maintenance. Adolescents need sufficient calcium to achieve peak bone mass. Good sources include dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), fortified plant-based milk alternatives, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods.
  • Iron: Important for the formation of red blood cells and preventing iron-deficiency anemia. Good sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, beans, lentils, and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin D: Works with calcium for bone health and is important for overall immune system function. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, and it can also be obtained from fortified dairy products, fatty fish, and supplements if necessary.
  • Vitamin A: Essential for vision, immune function, and skin health. Good sources include orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, leafy green vegetables, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Vitamin C: Important for the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, and immune function. Found in citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, peppers, and other fruits and vegetables.
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. Sources include nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables.
  • B Vitamins (B6, B12, folate): Play roles in energy metabolism, red blood cell formation, and the development of the nervous system. Sources include lean meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Important for brain development and function. Found in fatty fish (such as salmon and trout), flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and fortified foods.
  • Zinc: Supports growth, immune function, and wound healing. Good sources include meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, nuts, and legumes.

Adolescents experience significant growth spurts, particularly in terms of height, weight, and the development of muscle and bone mass. Adequate nutrition, including essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamins, is essential to support these physical changes. As brain undergoes significant development, including the refinement of neural connections and the maturation of cognitive functions. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and various vitamins play a crucial role in supporting cognitive function and overall brain health. Adequate nutrition supports a robust immune system, helping adolescents fend off infections and illnesses. Essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, as well as minerals like zinc, contribute to a well-functioning immune response. Adolescents are susceptible to nutritional deficiencies due to rapid growth and increased nutritional demands. Consuming a balanced diet ensures that they receive all the essential nutrients necessary for optimal health.

Especially, girls in adolescence undergo rapid growth, hormonal changes, and menstrual onset, necessitating specific nutritional attention. Adequate iron intake is crucial to prevent anemia, and sufficient calcium supports bone health. Specialized nutrition, including proper protein and vitamin consumption, is essential for optimal physical development and overall well-being during this critical phase of transition into adulthood.



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