The Multivitamin Series - 11 - 18 Year Olds

The Multivitamin Series - 11 - 18 Year Olds

Oxford Vitality provides several multivitamins. In addition to our general multivitamin, Oxford Vitality also offers multivitamin tablets which are specifically geared towards the young adult aged 11 to 18 years. 

The teenage years are also known as adolescence, a time for growth spurts and puberty. Puberty begins between the ages of 9.5 to 14 years old although it varies from person to person. The body grows faster than any other period in your life during puberty, apart from when you are a baby. Major physiological changes occur at this time, including height, muscle mass and voice tone, as well as hormonal changes which can bring about mood shifts. 

 

Why do adolescents need correct nutrition? 

The health of adolescents is very important for a number of reasons. Their bodies continue to grow at a rate of knots, their bones strengthen and their brains develop even further as they acquire new knowledge and experience different situations. An adolescent may experience sudden growth of a few inches then grow very slowly, followed by another growth spurt. Good nutrition is very important during this stage of life as our body relies on different nutrients in order to function correctly and grow optimally. A well-rounded diet should provide sufficient amounts of the essential vitamins, minerals and macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) to meet the demands needed for growth and development. 

 

Vitamins and minerals during adolescence

The body requires macronutrients for growth and development, energy and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals or, in other words, nutrients that are needed in smaller amounts. Multivitamin tablets are an easy and effective way to ensure that you are meeting all your nutritional requirements. The following micronutrients are essential for the health of those aged 11 - 18 for various reasons:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B2

  • Vitamin C

  • Calcium

  • Iron

  • Folic Acid

  • Magnesium

 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A was first discovered in 1912 by Gowland Hopkins. The vitamin is a collective group of fat-soluble compounds, including retinol and beta-carotene. Retinol is a preformed vitamin A, commonly found in animal food sources such as milk, cheese, butter and other dairy products, in addition to liver which is less common in the British diet. Beta carotene is a provitamin A carotenoid, also known as a pigment. Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A to carry out optimal functions. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claim that vitamin A contributes to iron absorption, maintenance of mucous membranes and skin, normal functioning of the immune system and energy metabolism (1). 

However, the primary role of vitamin A is to support normal vision. Night blindness is the deficiency disease of vitamin A, accounting for the main reason for childhood blindness and prevalent in more than 50% of countries worldwide. Retinol is converted into retinaldehyde which is then transferred to retinoic acid, and it is the retinaldehyde that allows the eye to see in low-light environments. Retinaldehyde binds specific proteins to the cones and rods of the eye which are needed for optimal functioning of the eye (2). 

 

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin as it is scientifically known, was the second B vitamin to be discovered. The vitamin produces two chemical reactions which create FAD and FMN, two cofactors that are required by certain enzymes in order to function. FAD and FMN are flavins and the enzymes which rely on the presence of these cofactors are called flavoproteins. EFSA, the governing body of nutrition and health claims made of food, states that vitamin B2 is required for the functioning of red blood cells, the functioning of the nervous system, maintenance of the mucous membranes and the metabolism of energy. 

Most B vitamins are required in the process of energy metabolism, and vitamin B2 is no different. The vitamin aids the breakdown of carbohydrates, protein and fats, the former of which can be converted into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal cellular form of energy. Girls may experience an increase in appetite from the age of 10 and boys from the age of 12. To meet their growth needs, adolescent girls require an average of 2,200 calories a day and boys need an average of 2,800 calories each day (3). Vitamin B2 enhances the efficiency of energy production so that the adolescent body can produce sufficient energy.

 

Vitamin C and Iron

Iron

The Royal Society of Chemistry says that 90% of all metal extracted today is iron (4). Iron originates back to 3500 BC where objects from that era have been unearthed and thought to be of meteoric origin. According to EFSA, the trace mineral contains energy metabolism properties, plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and the health of the immune system, contributes to oxygen transportation in the body and helps to reduce symptoms of fatigue and tiredness. In addition, iron contributes to the cognitive development of children. New evidence suggests that the brain continues to develop until 25 years, hence why iron is so important for adolescents and the young adult (5). Iron is particularly important for young girls when their menstrual cycle begins. Iron is a component of blood and it is important to replenish the lost iron each month with the loss of blood. 

Iron is an essential trace mineral that occurs in two forms: haem and non-haem. Haem iron derives from haemoglobin or myoglobin, two proteins that are found in living tissue, including animals and humans. Non-haem iron is found in fortified cereals, pasta, beans and dark green leafy vegetables. Both iron forms have the same function but non-haem iron is less readily absorbed by our bodies. This is where vitamin C comes into play. 

 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an organic compound that was initially isolated in 1747. James Lind, a British naval surgeon, conducted a study on 12 crewmates who were suffering from scurvy, the vitamin C deficiency disease. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is easily lost through cooking processes, including simmering and boiling. EFSA accredits many health benefits to vitamin c, including (but not limited to) contributing to the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical activity, normal collagen production for the function of bones, cartilage, gums, skin, teeth and blood vessels. 

The vitamin also plays a role in the functioning of the nervous system, brain, energy production levels and the immune system. Vitamin C is one of the most well-known antioxidants, one that is used to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E. Antioxidants neutralise highly reactive compounds called free radicals which are by-products of normal metabolism or as a result of exposure to radiation or environmental pollutants. Additionally, EFSA credit the improved absorption of iron to vitamin C. 

 

Iron and vitamin C

Vitamin C aids the absorption of non-haem iron by reversing the inhibiting effect of certain food compounds upon iron absorption (6). The vitamin forms ligands with the iron molecules to maintain its solubility, aiding absorption. Around 90% of our iron is absorbed from non-haem iron sources, hence why it is vital to enhance the absorption of non-haem iron.

 

Calcium

The name calcium derives from the Latin term for ‘lime’, calx, due to the discovery of calcium within lime in 1808. Calcium phosphate is the main component of bone, required for the maintenance of teeth and bones. Young adults grow exceptionally fast in certain phases. The volume of bone tissue that girls accumulate between the ages of 11 and 13 is the amount that is lost during the 30 years that follow menopause. It is also estimated that increasing peak bone mass (which is around 18 to 20 years old) by 10% can reduce the risk of an osteoporotic fracture during adulthood by 50%. Bone density can be improved by maintaining adequate calcium intake (7). 

Calcium is available in many food items, mainly dairy products and fish bones. The mineral is needed for the process of normal blood clotting, energy production and muscle functions. Furthermore, the nutrient contributes to normal neurotransmission, otherwise known as the transmission of nerve impulses between two neurons and/or a muscle fibre. Additional functions of calcium include the correct functioning of digestive enzymes to efficiently breakdown foods, and cell division.

In order for calcium to be absorbed, vitamin D must be available. Without the presence of vitamin D, calcium struggles to be absorbed. This is why all of our tablets that contain calcium also include vitamin D, including our multivitamin tablets, bone support tablets and calcium and vitamin D tablets.

 

Folic Acid

Many intertwine folic acid and folate together, alternating between the two names when talking about one nutrient. But this is actually incorrect. Folate is a general term used to describe a group of water-soluble B vitamins, colloquially known as vitamin B9. Folic acid is the oxidised synthetic compound that is commonly used in the fortification of food and supplements. Folate, on the other hand, is the natural form which occurs in food, mainly as tetrahydrofolate. 

In 2017, there were 18.8 births for every 1,000 female adolescents aged 15 to 18 years. This equated to 194,377 babies born to females in that age group (8). Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, therefore it is crucial to supplement with Folic acid regardless of planning a pregnancy or not. A low maternal folate status increases the risk of the development of neural tube defects (NTDs) in the developing foetus, such as spina bifida. Girls should supplement their diet with 400mcg of folic acid as soon as their menstrual cycle begins. 

Boys and young men may not be aware that they require folic acid supplementation, but the nutrient is just as crucial to them as for girls. Folic acid is often paired with vitamin B12 to prevent or treat Folate Deficiency Anaemia which affects the body’s ability to produce fully functioning red blood cells. Without these cells, our body will not be able to carry oxygen around the body, stimulating dangerous effects. 

 

Magnesium

Magnesium was first associated in 1617 with Henry Wicker, a farmer in Epsom, England. Wicker tried to give his cows water from a well but the animals refused to drink the water. The farmer noticed that the water healed scratches and rashes and from that moment on, the fame of Epsom salts spread. Epsom salts are notorious for treating several ailments, including muscle soreness. Epsom salt is known as magnesium sulfate, hence the link between the two items. 

In addition to contributing to normal muscle function, Magnesium aids the nervous system, reduces symptoms of fatigue and tiredness and supports the balance of electrolytes. Although more and more young adults are becoming increasingly more sedentary, many are still active and require rest and recovery to grow and build muscle. Magnesium enhances this recovery period, recuperating the muscles. Additionally, the nutrient contributes to normal protein synthesis, cognitive function, the process of cell division and the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

 

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References

  1. European Food Safety Authority (2016) EU Register of Nutrition and Health Claims. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/claims/register/public/?event=search

  2. Examine (2019) Vitamin A. Available at: https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-a/

  3. Healthy Children (2016) A Teenager’s Nutritional Needs. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/nutrition/Pages/A-Teenagers-Nutritional-Needs.aspx

  4. Periodic Table (2019) Iron. Available at: http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/26/iron

  5. Gauvrit, N. et al. (2017) ‘Human behavioural complexity peaks at age 25’ PLOS Computational Biology, 13(4). Available at: https://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005408

  6. Lynch, S. R. and Cook, J. J. (1980) ‘Interaction of Vitamin C and Iron’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 355(1), p. 32 - 44. Available at: https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1980.tb21325.x?sid=nlm%3Apubmed

  7. International Osteoporosis Foundation (2017) Bone Development In Young People. Available at: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/bone-development-young-people-0

  8. National Health Service (2019) Trends in Teen Pregnancy and Childbearing. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-development/reproductive-health-and-teen-pregnancy/teen-pregnancy-and-childbearing/trends/index.html