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Adolescent Girls and Nutrition

We all know that eating nutritious food is very important at any age but it is specifically important for adolescents. This is because it is the only time when your body is still growing. And this is important that you need to eat enough of good quality food and in proper quantity for meeting your nutrition as well as energy requirements. Of course, being a teenager can be fun but it can equally be difficult as the shape of your body changes

Adolescence is the period of transformation between childhood and adulthood. It is the period which provides the opportunity for the improvement of the body as well as correcting the unwanted nutritional practices. Not only this but also this is the same period when there is the onset of puberty, usually between the age group of 10 to 14 years in girls. Let us put it this way, adolescence is understood by the growth spurt as this is the time when you grow very fast. Not only this but also you will be experiencing some physical changes which will affect the nutritional needs of the body. On the other hand, there will also be some changes in your lifestyle which can drastically impact the food choices as well as eating habits. The nutritional needs of adolescent girls are therefore important to support the physical growth of the body as well as to prevent future health problems. So the need of the hour of all the parents is to pay attention to the nutritional needs of the adolescent girls.

How nutrition affects adolescent girls?

Do you know that girls have higher chances to suffer from nutritional deficiencies as compared to boys? The main reasons behind this are low social status, reproductive biology, lack of education as well as poverty. Moreover, socio-cultural traditions can even severely impact the chances of being malnourished. Adolescent girls specifically have a higher risk of being malnourished. This is because the rate of growth at this point of time is faster than at any time after their first year of life. Their body requires iron, protein as well as various other micronutrients for supporting the adolescent growth spurt as well as meeting the high demand for iron during the menstruation. The adolescent girls who become at this age have a high risk of facing severe complications as they are in that age period when they are still growing. Let us put it this way, the pregnant adolescents who are underweight are likely to experience painful labor as well as other obstetric complications. This can result in the infant’s risk of low birth weight and early death.

Why nutrition is important for adolescent girls?

As mentioned above, any sort of nutritional deficiency faced during the critical period of life can severely impact the future health of the adolescent which can even result in delayed sexual maturation. Do you know the rapid increase in the physical changes of an adolescent girl is directly proportional to the nutritional needs of the person? Secondly, the growth spurt which occurs at this age period creates a high demand for nutrients as well as energy. Physical growth, as well as nutritional status, are totally dependent one another for getting the full growth potential.
Nutrition of the adolescent girl is specifically important. But the main point that one should understand is that the undernutrition in adolescents usually ignored by their families or by herself. Adolescence is such a time where the body prepares for itself the nutritional demands of pregnancy as well as lactation that they may experience in later life. Following are the negative impacts that adolescent girls face due to undernutrition:
● Reducing the ability to learn as well as work at maximum productivity.
● Stopping the healthy development of future children.
● High risk of poor obstetric outcomes for teen mothers.
● The slow rate of sexual maturation as well as growth.
● Due to the lack of calcium, the teen suffers from low bone strength.
It is also claimed that the children who are born too thin and short are likely themselves to be underweight. Therefore there is a need to increase energy, iron, protein, calcium and minerals during adolescence.

Energy

The need for energy for adolescents is mainly influenced by the high metabolic rate, activity level as well as high requirement in supporting the pubertal development as well as growth. Not only this but also the adolescent girls need extra energy for the activity as well as growth. They need around 2100 calories each and every day. This is also equally needed for the rapid increase from childhood requirements. For meeting all such calorie requirements, adolescents need to choose various healthy foods such as low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, whole grains, fruits and veggies. However, for meeting the energy needs the adolescents can fall in the trap of unhealthy and junk foods. So this is very important that they must be well informed in the choice of healthy foods both in school as well as home.

Protein

The need for the protein for adolescents is known by the quantity of protein needed to maintain the existing lean body mass as well as the development of extra lean body mass during the adolescent growth spurt. We all know that protein is a must for the maintenance as well as the growth of muscle. Adolescent girls need around 45 to 60 grams of protein each and every day. And you will be getting such amount of protein by eating eggs, chicken as well as dairy products. If you are a vegetarian, you have to intake soy foods, nuts as well as beans. If you fail to intake all these foods in your daily diet then there will be a delay in sexual maturation as well as reduced accumulation of lean body mass.

Fats and oils

If you are unaware about the fact then let us tell you that dietary fat plays a significant role in getting energy source. They are the important cell structural component, the strong agent of metabolic function as well as an efficient gene regulator. Reports say that adolescent girls need 25% of total energy fats. This is because the low-fat diet have a high risk of evolving some diseases such s heart disease, colon cancer or breast cancer.

Calcium

Half of the bone development is achieved during adolescence and this is the main reason that your body needs an adequate amount of calcium for the development of dense bone mass. Not only this but also the need for the calcium is much more in adolescence because of the increased demand for skeletal growth. So to get 1200 milligrams of calcium, the adolescent girls are advised to eat three calcium-rich foods each and every day. Milk is the great source of calcium which is followed by cheese, frozen yoghurt ice cream. Additionally, orange juice, breakfast bars, cereals and bread are other excellent sources of calcium.

Iron

Iron is also important for transporting oxygen in the bloodstream and if your body lacks iron, then you are likely to suffer from anaemia which results in fatigue, weakness as well as confusion. During the period of adolescence, your body needs a high amount of iron for faster growth as well as the expansion of muscle mass and blood volume. During the onset of menstruation, the body needs 12 to 16 milligrams of iron per day which include chicken, beans, peanuts, green leafy vegetables as well as whole grains.

Folate

Folate plays a significant role in protein synthesis, DNA as well as RNA. Therefore, adolescent girls have increased demands for folate at the time of puberty. The rich sources of folate are ready to eat cereal, bread, orange juice, milk, lentils as well as dried beans. Generally, adolescents have the habit of skipping breakfast and so it is the duty of the parents to take proper care of them.

Nutrition-related problems for adolescent girls

Generally, poor eating habits at the time of puberty lead to various health problems such as osteoporosis, obesity as well as delay in sexual maturation. During this period teens have the risk of chronic diseases related to obesity as well as eating disorders.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders such as under-eating and overeating can result in serious health impacts. Adolescent girls generally have the fear of becoming fat which results in overly restrictive eating habits. 

Obesity

Obesity is proportional to increase risk of heart disease as well as diabetes. Doctors have linked the rise of obesity to the increase in the intake of junk food and lack of physical exercise. Therefore the regular practice of yoga and avoiding greasy meal is important for promoting healthy weight in adolescents.

So the need of the hour is consumed low-fat foods which include sources of monosaturated as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids such as lean meat, oils, nuts as well as poultry. Having said that the adolescent girls need to limit the intake of hidden saturated fatty acids which include fast foods and biscuits. We hope you found this article useful, Feel free to reach us for any queries. 

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