Bones grow rapidly during teenage years, making it one of the most important times for you to build healthy bones to last a lifetime. Because one quarter of adult bone mass is built between the ages of 12 to 14 for girls and 13 to 15 for boys, it’s important to eat enough calcium-rich foods, get enough vitamin D and do plenty of weight-bearing exercise like running, jogging or jumping to optimise your bone growth.
Alarmingly, most teens fall short of their recommendations for calcium, largely because they don't have enough milk, cheese and yogurt.
Dairy foods are a great source of calcium. If you’re a teen, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend three-and-a-half serves every day. A serve is 250ml milk, 200g yogurt or 40g of cheese.
In addition to calcium, dairy foods provide a natural source of nine other essential nutrients including potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, carbohydrate, protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and zinc. These nutrients are important for healthy blood and immune systems, eyesight, muscle and nerve function, healthy skin, energy and growth and repair in all parts of the body.
A healthy diet will help you get the nutrition you need to support your growth as a teen. And don’t forget to add some exercise. Check out these helpful tips:
- Eat a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups.
- Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism for the day and you’re less likely to crave unhealthy snacks later in the morning. For some tasty, creative brekkie ideas, head to The Dairy Kitchen.
- Think about what you’re snacking on. Snack foods like chocolate and chips can be high in calories and low in nutrients. Instead, try a fruit smoothie, fruit toast with ricotta or dried fruit and nuts. For more healthy snacks, check out The Dairy Kitchen.
- Limit how many soft drinks and energy drinks you have. Milk and flavoured milk are healthy drink choices.
- Swap sports drinks for flavoured milk – it’s the recovery drink you never knew you drank. Learn more
Find out about teen health and dairy foods in our Teens fact sheet.