Like children, adolescents are growing rapidly.
This is commonly referred to as the growth spurt.
This rapid development means that adolescents have complex dietary needs.
Unsaturated fat should be taken rather than saturated fat, to carry out its functions and provide energy.
Care should be taken to monitor fat intake in order to reduce the risk of obesity.
Starchy (complex) carbohydrates should be eaten to meet energy requirements. Many adolescents are very active and play sport, so their energy requirements will be very high.
Fibre is also important. Adolescents should eat wholegrain varieties of carbohydrate in order to achieve the recommended fibre intake of 25g per day.
This will help to keep their gut healthy, prevent constipation and reduce the risk of bowel related disorders such as cancer.
Protein is required to carry out the following functions:
Vitamin C is required to help the absorption of iron.
Iron is important during adolescence, in particular for girls who are losing blood through menstruation.
Vitamins B1 and B12 are required to help release energy from food. This is important due to the high energy demands of adolescents.
Folate is also a B group vitamin, and is required for normal cell division.