Teenagers - Vitamin and Mineral Requirements

Adolescents need plenty of vitamins and minerals during their growth spurt. For girls, this generally occurs around 10 to 11 years of age, while for boys it occurs later, at around 12 to 13 years. Nutritional and energy needs at this time are greater than at any other time of life, except during pregnancy and breast feeding.

As an adolescent goes through physical and biochemical changes, there is an increased need for certain vitamins. The following vitamins play significant roles:

    Folic acid and vitamin B12 are needed as tissue synthesis occurs rapidly.
    As the calorie intake increases, the need for vitamin B1 (thaimin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B3 (niacin) also increases.
    Vitamin B6 and vitamin D are needed in higher amounts for tissue growth and skeletal growth.
    The completed structure and function of newly formed cells relies on the presence of vitamins A, C, and E.
    There is a continued need for calcium, magnesium and zinc so that the bones can increase their density.

Throughout adolescence, the occurrence of inadequate diets is higher than in any other stage of development. The following has been found in relation to teenager's nutrient intake.

    Calcium, zinc and iron are often lower than the required amounts.
    Vitamin A and vitamin C have also been found to be low.
    The phosphorus intake can be high because of the quantity of soft drinks consumed and this can have an adverse effect on the calcium balance in the body.
    There can be an over consumption of high sugar and refined carbohydrate foods.
    Generally, adolescents who skip meals, eat smaller amounts of food, and have fewer healthy snacks (such as, fruit or yogurt) have the least adequate diets.

Supplements for adolescents

Adolescence is a time of increased vitamin and mineral need and it is also a time when adolescents are prone to developing poor eating habits. It is recommended that in addition to tyring to eat a healthy diet that teenagers take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. The supplement should contain at least the following:

Contents Per Tablet

    Vitamin A 500 - 1,200I Us
    Vitamin B1(thaimin) 2 - 10 mg
    Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 2 -1 0 mg
    Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 2 - 15 mg
    Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 10 - 25 mcg
    Vitamin C 25 - 150 mg
    Vitamin E d-Alpha 10 - 50 IUs
    Biotin 20- 50 mcg
    Calcium Pantothenate (B5) 30 - 60 mg
    Choline 5 - 15 mg
    Bioflavonoids 5 - 25mg
    Folic Acid 50 - 100 mcg
    Nicotinic acid 5 - 10 mg
    Nicotinamide 10 - 20 mg
    Beta-carotene 2 - 5 mg
    Iodine (from Kelp) 10 - 25 mcg
    Calcium (element) 50 - 150 mg
    Chromium 20 - 30 mcg
    Iron (element) 2 - 3 mg
    Magnesium (element) 20 - 60 mg
    Selenium (element) 10 - 25 mcg
    Zinc (element) 2 - 4 mg

What you can do to help

Adolescents are becoming more independent and making many food decisions on their own. Adolescents tend to eat more meals away from home than younger children. They are also heavily influenced by their peers.

Meal convenience is important to many adolescents and they may be eating too much of the wrong types of food (such as, soft drinks, fast-food and processed foods).

Further, a common concern of many adolescents is dieting. Girls may feel pressure from peers to be thin and to limit what they eat. Both boys and girls may diet to 'make weight' and 'look good' for a particular sporting or social event. So we need to try to encourage a healthy weight, making food choices that are healthy and being involved in some physical activity each day.

The following are some tips to help adolescents develop healthy eating habits:

    Arrange for teenagers to find out about nutrition for themselves.
    Encourage and support their interest in health, cooking, or nutrition.
    Take their suggestions, when possible, regarding foods to prepare at home.
    Experiment with foods outside your own culture.
    Have several nutritious snack foods readily available. Sometimes, teenagers will eat whatever is convenient.
    If there are foods that you do not want your teenager to eat, avoid bringing them into the home.
    Avoid buying high calorie desserts or snacks, such as snack chips, regular soft drinks or regular ice cream.
    Provide a good role model of healthy eating and living for your teenager to follow.
    Discuss the following healthy eating recommendations with your adolescent to help ensure a healthy eating plan:
    Eat three meals a day, with healthy snacks.
    Eat plenty of fiber and limit the use of salt.
    Drink a lot of fresh filtered water.
    Try to avoid or at least limit caffeinated drinks and drinks with a high sugar content.
    When cooking, try to steam, bake (without added fats or oils) or broil instead of frying.
    Try to avoid high sugar and refined carbohydrate foods.
    Eat? fresh fruit or vegetables for a snack.
    Try to eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day.
    Eat more chicken and fish than red meats.

The teenage years are a time of rapid growth and development. It is also a time when eating patterns and habits are often not as good as they could be. This places teenagers at the risk of developing one of the many nutritionally related health problems. Providing vitamin and minerals supplements is one measure that can be taken to help ensure that adolescents have the nutrition their body needs.


Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Elliot, N. 2004, Green Peace. Practical Parenting.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

Dr Jenny Tylee is an experienced health professional who is passionate about health and wellbeing. She believes that health is not just absence of disease and seeks to actively promote vitality and wellness through empowering others. She encourages people to improve their health by quit smoking, cleansing their body, taking essential vitamin and mineral supplement and many other methods, including herbal remedies. Visit Dr Jenny's blog and join her newsletter for more quality information.

The Importance of Life Skill Education

Have you ever been depressed in your life? I guess we have all had our challenging moments when the world seemed to cave in. Over time, we learnt how to face such setbacks. Barack Obama beautifully outlines one such moment in his autobiography "Dreams from my Father." There is a lot of emphasis on academics and sports in schools. Is there any thought given to helping children and adolescents to grapple with the perplexing emotional and social challenges that they sometimes need to confront? Many youth suicides and depressing phases in children/adolescents can be averted with the right kind of education to the child and the adolescent. This is where life skill education can play a great role in alleviating such trying moments in a child/adolescent. Life skills are the abilities which enable the individual to effectively deal in a positive and adaptive manner to the challenges of everyday life as per the World Health Organization. The World Health Organization has endorsed such education as a key factor to improve the quality of life of youngsters. Countries all over the world have started incorporating life skills in their education system with at least one hour per week allotted to it. Trained educators have been appointed to facilitate activities to improve students' emotional and social skills.

Emotions can be moderated and a balanced emotional state can be maintained only when the student is well aware of the emotions going through him/her. The building up of self-awareness is a crucial aspect of life skill education. Reflective exercises and the maintenance of a personal diary which serve as a healthy channel for the pouring out of emotions in the sometimes fragile psyche of an adolescent makes the journey into adulthood a little smoother. Empathy is another component that needs to be covered extensively. It is the ability to put oneself in another person's shoes and look at the world through the lenses of another person. Group discussions, debates and team activities can be incorporated to enhance the level of empathy along with field trips as a volunteer to hospitals, orphanages, old-age homes, etc. Yoga and meditation may also be taught as part of life skill education. The overall character of the adolescent is enhanced in this way. Well-rounded individuals ready to step into the adult world and embrace its complexities with their feet grounded on firm soil will emerge due to an increased focus on emotional and social skill building. These individuals will be better equipped to cope with the growing challenges of modern life with a sense of balance and poise.

Specific Conditions and Health Issues That Can Benefit From Physical Therapy

There are many health conditions and mobility issues that can be treated using physical therapy. Most practitioners of this kind of healthcare service specialize in different fields of physiotherapy. And even though this type of medical practice has been around for quite some time now, most of the general populace is still unaware of the various advantages and benefits that physiotherapists have to offer. The following is just some of the areas where physiotherapy has long been used to evaluate and treat physical disabilities and conditions that have long plagued mankind.

    Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy - for individuals who have suffered from cardiopulmonary conditions or those who may have undergone cardiac or pulmonary surgery, a good cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation program may be necessary to restore their endurance and overall physical health. Physiotherapists practicing in this field have a basic goal in mind, to help the patient gain his strength and independence in terms of mobility and functionality.

    Neurological Physical Therapy - sufferers of neurological diseases and disorders like cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, as well as people who have gone through brain injury, spinal cord injury and stroke are all susceptible to mobility issues and seriously impaired motor functions. A neurological physiotherapist's job is to assess and aid these types of patients in restoring their independence through a specially designed physical therapy or rehabilitation program.

    Pediatric Physical Therapy - more often than not, some of our youngsters need some type of physiotherapy, especially those who may have genetic or congenital diseases that have left them unable to function properly in the outside world. A pediatric physiotherapist can help in diagnosing, treating, and managing certain health issues that some infants, children, and adolescents may be suffering from. These types of physical therapists have the capacity to detect specific symptoms in infants and toddlers who cannot really communicate yet and provide a workable and effective treatment that will allow these children to function and grow up as normally as possible.

    Geriatric Physical Therapy - just like our children, most of our elders will require the services of a good physical therapist as well. With the various health issues that most senior citizens are suffering from these days, a geriatric physiotherapist will never run out of patients to treat any time soon. As we grow old, our body will begin to show signs of degradation. Osteoporosis, arthritis, certain types of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and other health issues associated with old age are just some of the conditions that geriatric physiotherapists can and will encounter. Senior citizens who suffer from or have undergone hip and joint replacement, incontinence, and balance disorders can also benefit from geriatric physical therapy.

    Orthopedic Physical Therapy - perhaps one of the most common specialties in physiotherapy, orthopedic physical therapists diagnose, help manage, and treat conditions and injuries related to the musculoskeletal system. People recovering from orthopedic surgery, sports related injuries, and amputations are the main focus of orthopedic therapists. Apart from diagnostics, management and treatment programs, practitioners of this field are also capable of providing strength training and prevention programs to individuals leading an active lifestyle.

The above mentioned physiotherapy specialties are just some of the practices in the field of physiotherapy.

Although there is a specific discipline of physical therapy for every type of injury, health disorder or physical disability, their expertise as physiotherapists are a welcome addition to the healthcare service industry.

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Treating Heroin Addiction in Adolescents

Adolescents, in particular, are vulnerable to addiction because their brains are still in development and are not fully formed. This means they are still malleable, and therefore are able to be influenced physically by chemical compounds. This can have far reaching consequences for them, as it may ultimately affect how they finish maturing into adults. Too heavy of drug use during this period can effectively cripple a teenager for life.

One of the worst drugs a teenager can become involved with is Heroin. This is for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is the fact of how addictive it is. There have been instance of a teenager developing a physical addiction to the drug after using it only a single time. This makes the drug extremely scary for parents for obvious reasons.

Another thing to keep in mind about heroin is the withdrawal symptoms. These can be acute and very painful. Sometimes the person who has the addiction is going to need to do a lot of vomiting for instance. Other times they will experience other symptoms of varying degrees of unpleasantness. These can range from the mild such as problems with your sleeping cycle, to the more severe, such as extreme physical or muscular pain that can result when a person is going through withdrawals.

There are a variety of ways that you can treat addiction, but they all have one main feature in common. The best thing to do is to make absolutely sure that you are getting all traces of a drug out of a person. That way, you know that you are really only dealing with residual physical dependency issues. This in turn makes it easier to isolate the mental problems the teenager may be dealing with so you can treat those as well.

Other things to keep in mind can include the fact that it is very easy to relapse into past behaviors. Most addicts experience a relapse at least once into their old drug using behaviors. This means that not only must these individuals constantly get the actual treatment they need, but also that they must be watched to make sure they are not interrupting the treatment plan.

It is most difficult to treat adolescents because of their age. Everyone feels bad for these children and they need to get the help they need to shake off their addiction and drug use issues. The time to do this is while they are still young, because they really need to have these sorts of problems sorted out by the time they become adults. Treating Heroin Addiction in adolescents is a very important function to perform.

Smoking and Dental Health Are More Intimately Connected Than You Would Imagine

Smoking and dental health are more intimately connected than you would imagine

Imagine losing a portion of your cheek at the age of 18? Medical research indicates that smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers. Even those addicted to smokeless tobacco (snuff or chewing tobacco) can develop cancers of the cheek, gums and lining of the lips, increasing the risk by about 50 times.
Oral cancer is in fact one of the most devastating effects of smoking. In fact, the death rate from oral cancers (which includes cancers of the tongue, mouth, gums, tonsils and pharynx) exceeds the death rate from cervical cancer, according to experts.

Who is at risk?

It's believed that the adolescents are at the maximum risk. Over the last 10 years the number of kids under 18 who become daily smokers increased by 70 per cent. Roughly 3,000 kids become regular smokers every day. Worse, almost 1/3 of them will die from a tobacco-related illness (Dental Health Foundation, http://www.dentalhealth.ie/whatsnew/index.tmpl?_eqRIDdatarq=20040224175004)
The susceptibility to smoking starts around age 10 years and peaks by age 14 years in close to 60 per cent of the population. And once thy have experimented, approximately half continue to smoke and become addicted to the nicotine content in cigarettes. An adolescent, who thinks that the health problems of smoking can be alleviated, provided he or she can stop smoking before the age of 35, appears to be at much greater risk of experimentation. Furthermore, older the habit and more the number of cigarettes smoked in a day, harder is it to quit.

The risk of oral cancer in adolescents?

Approximately 75% of all oral cancers are associated with tobacco use or alcohol consumption. In fact, about 3 per cent of male and 2 per cent of female cancer sufferers have oral cancer. The death rate from oral cancer is also high. Only about 50 percent of people who get oral cancer survive for five years or more, in part because the disease often is not discovered until it is more advanced, according to a study carried in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.

Early warning signs:

o Sticky tar deposits or brown staining on the teeth. Heavy smokers will have almost brown teeth.

o 'Smoker's palate' - red inflammation on the roof of the mouth

o Delayed healing of the gums

o Increased severity of gum disease

o Bad breath or halitosis

o Black hairy tongue

o Oral lesions

o Gum recession - with chewing tobacco at the site of the tobacco "wad", the gums react by receding along the tooth root, exposing the root

o Oral cancer

Why do young people smoke?

There are a number of complex and inter-relating factors that predispose young people to smoke, and these vary among individuals and among populations. However, years of research have identified certain factors that commonly play a role in smoking initiation. These include high levels of social acceptability for tobacco products, exposure and vulnerability to tobacco marketing efforts, availability and ease of access, role modeling by parents and other adults, and peer group use.
A study in the United States found that among teens who smoke, 85 per cent chose the three most heavily advertised brands of cigarettes, compared to only 35 per cent of adults. Data suggest that children are more responsive than adults to the messages and images contained in tobacco advertisements. Past studies have also shown that influence by their peers is likely the biggest motivator leading to adolescent's experimentation with smoking. Girls in fact are more susceptible to such influences, a trend that carries over to high school according to past findings.

dentists and dental associations can do?

Small wonder that the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) has now constituted a task force to push its three-step approach to smoking cessation intervention: "Ask. Advise. Refer." Efforts are meanwhile afoot to develop protocols, scripts, and a toolkit to facilitate smoking cessation intervention by dental hygienists. In November 2003, ADHA also received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco to launch a nationwide effort by dental hygienists to promote smoking cessation.

Smoking is no doubt a serious health problem for our adolescents. However, since abstinence is a long-drawn process, our cessation services need to be made more attractive to teens. So far, interventions with the youth have been relatively brief, without focus and without any longer term support systems. It would also be helpful to know what motivates adolescents to want to quit smoking.
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