Adolescent nutrition

Nutrition describes the processes by which all of the food a person eats are taken in and the nutrients that the body needs are absorbed. Good nutrition for adolescents can help prevent disease and promote proper health, growth, and development. Adequate intakes of vitamins and minerals are an important part of nutrition. Vitamins are organic substances present in food. They are required by the body in small amounts to regulate metabolism and to maintain normal growth and functioning.

Minerals are vital because they are the building blocks that make up the muscles, tissues, and bones. They also are important to many life-supporting systems, such as hormones, transport of oxygen, and enzyme systems. There are many nutrients the body absorbs from food and each of the food groups supplies at least one nutrient. For example, oat bran, which is a whole grain, can supply fiber and a mineral called magnesium. A good nutrition plan will ensure that a balance of food groups, and adequate amounts of the nutrients supplied by each group, is eaten.

Healthy eating at fast food restaurants

  • Skip “value-sized” or “super-sized” meals
  • Choose a grilled chicken sandwich or a plain, small burger
  • Use mustard instead of mayonnaise
  • Limit fried foods or remove breading from fried chicken, which can cut half the fat
  • Order garden or grilled chicken salads with light or reduced-calorie dressings
  • Choose water or fat-free or low-fat milk instead of sweetened soda SOURCE: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Many adolescents consume more calories than they need, yet they don’t meet recommended daily intakes for a number of nutrients. Of particular concern for children and adolescents are adequate levels of calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E from the diet.

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