According to a report published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, teen athletes have been taking supplements for more than 15 years. The top five supplements used by teen athletes are vitamin C, multivitamins, iron, sports drinks and protein. Do teen athletes really need this supplementation?
Vitamin C is essential for a healthy immune system in teens. The vitamin aids in the production of bones and blood vessels. It keeps the immune system running at optimal levels and increases the absorption of calcium needed for healthy bones. Vitamin C quickly flushes out of the body if it is unused. Food sources include citrus fruits, tomatoes and broccoli.
Is supplementation needed? Not really, the recommended daily intake for teens is supplied by one glass of orange juice.
Multivitamins contain various vitamins and minerals, including, vitamin C. According to the Mayo Clinic, many children get all the vitamins they need from fortified cereals, so a daily multivitamin may not be needed. Too much of certain vitamins can be toxic to children, so it is important to give a vitamin that is appropriate for your teens age group.
Iron is another mineral that is often supplemented for all the wrong reasons. Women and teen girls need the most iron due to monthly blood loss from menstruation. The recommended intake for teen girls between the ages of 14 and 18 is 15 mg per day. Fortified cereals like Cheerios supply more than 10 mg of iron, not to mention the small amounts that add up throughout the day from other foods like meats and vegetables.
Sports drinks are a fad among teenagers, but this fad can lead to negative side effects. Many sports drinks include high levels of caffeine and other natural stimulants like Guarana and synephrine. According to WebMD, the only time teens need sports drinks is when they have exercised for more than an hour and a half in extreme heat.
Protein supplementation may offer some benefit to teen athletes, but the supplement is overused and overdosed in most cases. According to Kids Health, eating too much protein can cause health problems such as dehydration and kidney problems.
What is the Best Option for Teen Athletes Who Want to Supplement?
A healthy diet is all the body needs to function at optimal levels. Extra protein, sports drinks and mineral supplementation may lead to health problems early in life. Teen athletes may need a little more protein, but that equates to a little more meat at dinner or maybe a protein bar before working out.