How can you help a teen with better Nutrition? So many ways, it’s impossible to capture them all. Here are a few to consider, depending on convenience, compliance, and how much money you’d like to throw at this.
1. Nutrient-Dense “Convenience” Foods No cooking, or simple pan-frying is all that’s needed. Nuts, seaweed, fancy cheese like gouda or Brie, salami, liver, liverwurst, sardines, oysters, salmon, pastured eggs, berries… you know, all the expensive things you might not want to buy all the time because it will double your food bill? If your teen will eat them, look for them on sale, and consider it an investment in their future.
2. Bone broth or Collagen Teens are building bones and other tissues at a rapid pace, and collagen supports that by balancing out the amino acids which are deficient in muscle meats and other animal protein. The glycine also improves metabolism in a variety of ways, and spares energy that would otherwise go into collagen synthesis. If your family eats soup or you can make rice or mashed potatoes with broth, then great. Some kids will drink a bowl of broth with some salt and vegetables. Other kids might like to stir collagen powder into coffee or black tea. We have broth for cooking, though I don’t use it every day, and collagen powder for convenience since it makes a difference in my skin and joints.
3. Liquid Minerals Bones are known for needing calcium, but all body tissues need a variety of minerals, and eating refined foods doesn’t help much. Minerals are used as tissue ingredients and to conduct signals across cell walls and other membranes, and thus contribute to calmer mood and fewer growing pains. This last benefit is the main selling point for my teens. Stir a capful into diluted juice or a smoothie.
4. Liver Powder Capsules If you have a kid who loves fine motor activities, putting the powder into capsules could be a weekly chore. The target dose is 6-8 capsules a day, roughly equivalent to a small serving of liver, and way simpler. But try liver - your kids might surprise you by liking it, especially with bacon and onions. I find this to be an energy lift that lasts even when I’m not consistent. The choline, B vitamins, copper, Vitamin A and other nutrients that don’t occur in many other foods make liver a natural powerhouse.
5. Cod Liver Oil Don’t overdo it on this one, but sufficient Vitamin A is important for puberty development, resistance to seasonal allergies and food intolerances, and circadian rhythm. Sufficient Vitamin D is key for mood and energy. Both are key for bone development and balanced immune function. These are both fat-soluble and can be stored, so irregular intake will still get the job done.
These are the general first tier of supplements to consider, because they'll fill in the places that are hard to keep up with in a growing kid, and have great systemic benefits.
Part 3, coming soon, will include some other less typical supplements and strategies you might consider if several months of these don't bring the results you're looking for.