The Vitamins You Should Be Taking In Your Teens

Taking vitamins is encouraged at every age. While it's best to get them from a balanced and nutritious diet, the majority of Americans do not follow the United States Dietary Guidelines. Instead, many eat foods that give them energy, but have low nutrients, according to Oregon State University. Taking vitamins fills those holes in your diet, allowing you to get the nutrients you may be missing.

One of the most important periods of your life to take vitamins is during your tween and teenage years. While many teens participate in physical activity and eat a healthy diet, some follow unhealthy diets and habits. Ulfat Shaikh, a pediatrician at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, spoke to U.S. News and World Report and noted that many skip breakfast, eat poorly made school lunches, drink soda, and eat unhealthy snacks. That being said, it can be difficult to know which vitamins teens should take.

Teens should focus on calcium and vitamin D

The majority of growth happens during puberty, starting, on average, at 12-years-old for boys and 11-years-old for girls, with growth stopping after around 4 years, according to the National Health Service. Environmental factors can play a role in slowing growth, including a lack of proper nutrition, according to Healthline. Two vitamins to give a teen during their puberty years are calcium and vitamin D.

"We need calcium for bone and muscle growth, but it doesn't get absorbed as well without vitamin D," Stephanie Schiff, a nutritionist at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital, told The Healthy. "These are the bone-building years for boys and girls, and if you don't build enough bone, you will be prone to brittle bones later in life."

Calcium is incredibly important for bone health because bones are the main storage site for the mineral. However, only 15-20% of calcium gets properly absorbed, according to MedlinePlus. Vitamin D helps absorb more calcium so it's important for teens to take both. The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements suggests tweens and teens take 600 IU of vitamin D and 1300mg of calcium per day for males and females.