Teenagers need plenty of vitamins and minerals to maintain proper health, especially during their growth spurt and puberty stages. Vitamins are considered micronutrients – they are needed in small amounts, but are still essential for various bodily functions. A lack of nutrients can disrupt physical and mental growth and interfere with pubertal development.
Vitamins for teenagers may contain one or a combination of vitamins (multivitamins). It is important to know which vitamins your teenager needs before choosing a supplement, as the wrong combination can cause overdoses and possible complications. Here are some of the most important common vitamins for teenagers and their functions.
Vitamin A is a natural antioxidant – it fights free radicals that cause cell damage and make the body prone to disease, including cancer. Beta-carotene is a form of vitamin A that is essential to skin and eye health. It also prevents heart disease, boosts the immune system, and possibly prevents certain forms of cancer.
This is actually a group of vitamins known as the B-complex vitamins. The most important B-complex vitamin for teenagers folic acid, or vitamin B9. Folic acid is essential in DNA replication and cell production, and lack of folic acid can cause overproduction of red blood cells, or megaloblastic anemia. Other important B-vitamins for teenagers include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), and pantothenic acid (B5), and pyroxidine (B6).
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, making it an effective guard against disease. It is essential in the production of collage, which helps keep the body firm and keeps the tissues together. It also aids in the synthesis of brain chemicals such as dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
The most beneficial form of vitamin D is cholecalciferol. It helps maintain vital organ systems, promotes bone formation, regulates hormone production, and boosts the immune system. Sunlight is the most common source of vitamin D, so supplements are more important for teenagers who get limited sun exposure.
Studies show that Vitamin E (tocopherol) can help lower bad cholesterol and increase the production of good cholesterol, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. It is also a strong antioxidant, and research suggests that it helps fight certain cancers, including breast and prostate cancer.
IMPORTANT: Vitamins for teenagers are considered dietary supplements rather than drugs, and are not strictly regulated. Because of this, some vitamins for teenagers may contain harmful chemicals such as starch, silica, and gluten. To avoid such products, choose only those that are GMP-compliant.
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