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Tips for Vegetarian Teens

Fitness for mind and body.

Like any diet, vegetarian diets have the potential to be very dangerous, especially during the teen years. This is when the body is still developing and certain nutrients are essential. The following tips will help vegetarian teens stay healthy.

Bowl of cereal topped with strawberries

1.  Protect your bones. Teens require slightly more calcium than others (a total of 1200 to 1300mg a day). Milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources as well as dark-green leafy vegetables, beans and fortified oranges, cereals and rice milk. See also: Keeping Your Bones Strong

2.  Include B12. A deficiency of B12, which is only in animal products, can cause anemia and irreversible nerve damage. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods including fish (trout, salmon, haddock, clams, tuna), meat (beef, pork), poultry (chicken breast), eggs, milk, and milk products. Fortified breakfast cereals are a particularly valuable source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians. Strict vegetarians should take a multivitamin.

3.  Add iron. This mineral is essential for menstruating teens. You need to eat whole grains, beans, nuts and dark-green leafy vegetables are rich in iron along with vitamin C-rich foods to be absorbed properly. Top cereal with strawberries and top vegetable burgers with tomatoes. See also: Peanut Butter Protection

4.  Do not forget about zinc. Needed for growth and energy, zinc is in eggs, dairy products, whole-grain foods, wheat germ, nuts and tofu.

5.  Do not worry about protein. Teens who get enough calories to maintain a healthy weight from a variety of plant foods (rice, beans, grains and/or nuts) will get enough protein.

6.  Lay off junk foods. Make every bite count. Grab some fresh fruit, cereal or nuts instead of reaching for nutritionally void alternatives.

7.  View the chart, Vegetarian Diets For Children And Teens to help you determine your personal needs! (New window will open)

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