Vitamins and Minerals

Do any of the medications commonly prescribed for teenagers interact with vitamins?

Several medications commonly prescribed for teens, like oral concraceptives, certain antibiotics and the acne medicine Accutane, change the requirement for specific vitamins or minerals. Ask your chid's doctor for specific directions.

Does my teenager need a calcium supplement?

Some teens may need calcium supplements. Three servings of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products should meet daily recommendations. Teens who avoid dairy products need to increase their intake of other foods high in calcium, such as calcium-fortified orange juice. For teens with inadequate dietary calcium intake, many doctors suggest taking a nonprescription, calcium-containing antacid tablet or a soft chewable calcium supplement daily.

Healthy Habits

It's better to spend your money on good foods, no on food supplements. The FDA does not regulate supplements as medication, and as a result, different brands vary in their quality and nutrient levels. If you give your children supplements, make sure to tell your physician, since they may interact with medications your children are taking.

Useful Information

Soft drinks, juice and sports drinks have replaced milk as the mealtime drink of teenagers.

When teens drink a 12-ounce can of cola instead of a 12-ounce glass of milk, they lose 450 milligrams of calcium, which is one-third of their daily requirement of calcium.

Less than 10 percent of girls ages 9 to 17 get the recommended daily amount of calcium, which is crucial for building strong bones.

Useful Information

Teens require iron - considerably more than during the preteen years. Boys require the extra iron to keep up with the demands of new muscles and more blood for a bigger body. Girls require the extra iron for growth and to replace the iron lost in the menstrual blood. Iron requirements are futher increased for males and females who are active in athletics.

Calcium Needs for Teens

Children between the ages of 9 and 18 need 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day. Young adults between the ages of 19 and 24 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Adequate calcium intake in teen years is essential to build strong bones for life. Calcium can be lost from bone throughout life, but it can only be added during adolescence through the 20's. Inadequate calcium intake during the teen years means and increased risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures later in life.

Health Alert

Teens who restrict the number of calories they eat may be stunting their growth. When calories are limited, growth takes a back seat. Calories go first to provide the energy for basic life processes. Next, they provide fuel for physical activity. If there are calories left over, they are used for growth. When there are no extra calories, the teen's growth suffers. Inadequate calorie intake can also affect emotions and the body's ability to fight infection.