If your teen's diet contains a wide variety of foods, including whole grain products, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy projects, nuts, seeds, eggs and meat, then s/he is probably getting the vitamins and minerals his or her body needs. Teens not eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of food might actually need supplements to get the vitamins and minerals they need each day. Teens need to get calcium and Vitamins A, B, C, D (from sunlight) and E from what they eat or from a supplement.
What vitamins do teens need?
Vitamin A Milk, eggs, fortified cereals, orange or green vegetables – oranges, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, kale – cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, and mangos. (Male teens need 900 micrograms. female teens need 700 micrograms)
B1 (Thiamin) - Whole grains or fortified cereals (Males need 1.2 milligrams, females 1 mg)
B2 (Riboflavin) - Meat, eggs, lentils, peas, green leafy veggies (Males need 1.3 milligrams, females 1 mg)
B6 - Potatoes, bananas, seed, nuts, dairy products and spinach (Males need 1.3 milligrams, females 1.2 mg.)
B9 (folic acid) - Dried beans, green leafy veggies, orange juice (All teens need 400 micrograms)
B12 - Fish, red meat, milk, cheese, eggs (All teens need 2.4 micrograms)
Vitamin C Red berries, kiwi, bell peppers, tomatoes, grapefruit, oranges, and spinach. Male teens need 75 milligrams. Female teens need 65 milligrams. Vitamin D Sunlight! Egg yolks, fish oils and milk. Female and male teens need 10 micrograms (400 IU). Vitamin E Vegetable oils, nuts, leafy greens, avocados and whole grains. Female and male teens need 15 milligrams.
Why should teens take vitamins? If you are concerned that your teen is not getting enough vitamins and minerals because s/he does not eat enough or a variety of foods, then a vitamin that provides 100% of the recommended daily allowance might be a good idea. Many teenagers should take a multivitamin each day, and young women should take calcium with Vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis (thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density) as older adults.
Can you get too many vitamins? In fact, if you are eating a well-balanced diet and taking supplements you might be getting more than you need. In most cases, you will just get rid of the excess (e.g., pee out extra water-soluble vitamins), but in some cases, you can do yourself harm, so read the labels and talk to your doctor about what is right for you. In addition, make sure your doctor knows about all vitamins and other supplements you are taking.
Resources If you want to analyze what nutrients are in what you eat, you can go to a nutritional analysis tool (NAT) that is free.