Essential Nutrients Every Vegetarian Teenager Needs!

Vegetarian, vegan, and variations of these diets are growing in popularity among teenagers. While these diets can be steps toward better health, it’s important that special nutritional gaps be filled. With a little planning, a vegetarian or vegan diet can provide teenagers with all the nutrients they need.

Calorie Requirements: Calorie needs are unique for each individual and are important in growth and development, especially during teen years. Female teens need about 2,300 calories and male teens need about 2,500 to 3,000 calories. These amounts vary by activity level. Teen athletes will need to be especially careful to get their caloric and nutritional needs met.

Protein: Plant proteins alone can provide all the protein teens need as long as it comes from a variety of sources. Low-fat dairy products and combinations of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds, are all good sources of protein on a vegetarian diet.

Zinc: Zinc is important for growth and sexual maturation. Zinc can be found in whole grains, nuts, legumes, and fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B-12 comes only from animal products. It’s found in dairy products and can be found in fortified breakfast cereals. Vegans need to include fortified cereals or vitamin supplements to get enough B-12.

Calcium: Teens need about 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily for strong bones. Vegetarians who do not consume milk products can get calcium from fortified products such as soymilk, and orange juice. Leafy greens such as spinach and kale can provide some calcium. Some legumes, such as soy, also provide some calcium.

Iron: Vegetarians may be at risk for iron deficiency. Good sources of iron include fortified cereals, oatmeal, fortified bread and dried fruit. Females tend to need more iron than males, so it’s important they monitor their daily intake.

For more information on the importance on vitamin B-12 for vegetarians visit

The statements and products referred to throughout this article have not been evaluated by the FDA.
They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition.
If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or health care provider.

COMPENSATION DISCLOSURE: A relationship exists between this website and the products or services it reviews, recommends or promotes.

Author's Bio: 

Rodney Alan Cole is a contributor to
websites that promote healthy living.