Today’s major health concern is COVID-19. While the pandemic should eventually pass due to a robust vaccination effort, there is a different health problem escalating in teenage girls that could stay with them for their entire lifetime. It involves underconsuming dairy products . . . and more specifically, the vitamins and minerals found in those foods.
According to the May 4, 2021, edition of The Wall Street Journal, 94.3% of 14- to 18-year-old girls eat less than the recommended amount of dairy foods, which are leading sources of calcium and vitamin D.
“Doctors and nutrition experts are increasingly alarmed by the widespread low intake of key nutrients among preteen and teen girls and are warning that poor diets are likely to cause both immediate issues such as poor school performance and long-term health problems like osteoporosis,” wrote Andrea Peterson in her article “Teen girls’ poor diets concern doctors.”
Concerning government data
Adolescent girls, which includes a wider age range than the 14-to-18-year-old demographic, aren’t getting a host of vitamins and minerals in addition to vitamin D and calcium. Folate and iron also are areas of concern.
When looking at the whole group of adolescent girls, about 80% do not consume enough calcium. As for iron, its underconsumption has caused about 20% of girls to be categorized as anemic. Low iron levels can impact cognitive function and mood.
As for bone health, there’s no way to make up for the teenage years.
“Adolescent girls gain 40% to 60% of their bone mass between 11 to 14 years of age,” said Dr. Ellen Rome, who is head of the Center for Adolescent Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. That’s why calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium are so critical during this time period.
Doctors also pointed out the sugary drinks, particularly soda, are displacing foods that deliver much-needed healthy vitamins and minerals. In fact, 95.2% of 9- to 13-year-old girls get more than their recommended daily calorie intake due to foods with added sugars and those containing high levels of solid fats.