Because of the rapid growth and development during teenage years, adolescents have greater needs for certain nutrients. Below are certain nutrients needed by teenagers in greater amounts. These are based on the Philippine Dietary Reference Intakes (PDRI) 2015 developed by FNRI-DOST. The PDRI is a new set of multi-level standards wherein the Recommended Energy/Nutrient Intake (REI/ RNI) is one of the components. The REI/RNI is the level of intake of energy or nutrient which is considered adequate for the maintenance of health and well-being of healthy persons in the population.
· Energy – Adolescent boys need more energy foods because of an increase in physical activities than adolescent girls. The energy requirement of adolescents aged 13-15 years is 2700 kcal for 48.5 kg boys while 2170 kcal for 46 kg girls. For adolescents aged 16-18 years, it is 3010 kcal for 59 kg boys while 2280 kcal for 51.5 kg girls.
· Protein – The need for body building foods is also high among teenagers because of accelerated growth and development. The protein need of adolescents (13 -15 years) is 62 grams per day for boys and 57 grams per day for girls. For adolescents aged 16-18 years, it is 73 grams per day for boys while 61 grams for girls is needed.
· Calcium – teenagers have higher requirements for calcium as the adolescence period is a vital time for bone development. Teenagers need extra calcium to store up an optimal amount of bone (peak bone mass). Building bone mass through a balanced diet, including adequate calcium may delay the onset or limit chances of developing osteoporosis later in life. Calcium requirement for an adolescent boy or girl (13-18 years) is 1000 mg per day.
· Iron – Both teenage boys and girls need additional iron due to the growth spurt. Among teenage girls, the onset of “monthly period” increases the need for iron. The recommendation for iron is 19 mg/ day for teenage boys (13-15 years) while it is 28 mg/day for teenage girls (13-15 years). Iron requirements of teenage girls cannot be met by usual diet alone. Intake of iron-rich and iron-fortified foods and the use of supplements are recommended, if necessary.
It is important to plan how to get adequate iron. Iron from meat is better absorbed by the body than the iron from plant sources. However, the absorption of iron from plants is improved by eating fruit or drinking juice that contains vitamin C with the iron-rich food.
Meet the changing nutritional needs of a growing teenager by choosing and enjoying a diet that includes a variety of foods from the Pinggang Pinoy, coupled with regular physical activity.