Supplementing your teenage child's diet with a daily multivitamin can be one of the best things you can do for their health. There are 13 vitamins and 14 essential minerals that a teenager needs in order to grow and develop properly. Here are several examples of what some of these essential nutrients can do for your teen:
As you might suspect, not all multivitamins are created equal. Supplements vary significantly in quality amongst the different manufacturers. For example, the vitamin C in Product A may not be as potent or bioavailable as the vitamin C in Product B.
To help you navigate through the maze of vitamin supplements for teenage boys and girls, we've analyzed a number of different multivitamin products, specifically designed for tenagers. We rated each of them on four key parameters by using a scale from 1 to 10, with ten being the highest score.
The table below provides a summary of the Effectiveness Scores of multivitamins for teens that are currently available on the market in the US.
|Whole Food Multivitamin for Teens
|Active Health Teen
|Enhanced Energy Teen
|Teen Complete Gummy Vitamins
|Power Teen Chewable Multi-Vitamin
|M.V (Multivitamin) Teen
|Doctor's Choice For Teens
|Michael's Naturopathic Programs
|Teen Boys Tabs
|Mega Vita-Min for Teens
|One A Day
|Teen Sport Multivitamin
|Complete Multivitamin and Mineral for Teens
After evaluating all products we noticed several recurring issues:
Here is more detail on what goes into calculating each of the scores:
This metric represents how many of the 13 vitamins and 14 essential minerals are included in the product. Surprisingly, a number of products are missing key ingredients, such as iodine, phosphorus, and magnesium. We also consider the number of additional active ingredients because lesser-known nutrients, such as choline, inositol, and lycopene have well documented health benefits, but are typically not included in the more basic multivitamin formulations. We give extra credit to products that contain such beneficial compounds.
Our potency score has two components: the chemical form of the nutrient, as well as the total amount of each nutrient contained in one serving. Depending on the chemical form of the nutrients it uses, Product A can be several times more potent than Product B. For example, Magnesium Citrate contains 16.2 percent of elementary magnesium, while Magnesium Oxide contains 60.3 percent of elementary magnesium. A product containing magnesium in the Oxide chemical form would be 3.7 times more potent when it comes to that one nutrient than a product containing magnesium in the Citrate chemical form.
Bioavailability is the portion of a given active ingredient that is capable of being absorbed through the intestinal membranes so it becomes available for use by the cells and organs of the body. A given nutrient can come in many different chemical forms and some of these forms may be more bioavailable than others. For example, a study by the University of Texas published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed that one common form of calcium, called Calcium Citrate, is 2.5 times more bioavailable than another popular form, called Calcium Carbonate. Based upon these findings, we've assigned a lower Bioavailability score to products containing Calcium Carbonate rather than other, more bioavailable forms of calcium.
When it comes to teen multivitamins, we put safety first. We prefer a less potent, but safer product, rather than a product packed in nutrients that are well in excess of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs). The standards against we measure potency and safety of teens multivitamins are based on the RDAs for teenage boys and girls 14 to 18 years of age, as put forth by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.
When determining the Safety scores, we look for two things:
1. Harmful additives. We analyze the list of ingredients to see if any artificial flavors, preservatives, coloring, sweeteners and binding agents are included. All such ingredients are then cross-referenced against an ingredient safety database to check for compounds with potential toxicity. Points are deducted from the Safety score of each product that includes substances with potential toxicity.
2. Risk of overdose. We cross-reference every single ingredient to make sure it falls within the safe Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for teens as set out by the Food and Nutrition Board. Ingredients that exceed the UL get a deduction in their Safety rating. For example, the vitamin A UL for teens aged four to eight is 3000 IU; however, quite a few products contain 5000 IU and higher. When teens take multivitamins that exceed the UL for vitamin A, they can experience side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, and irritability. To avoid this risk, keep an eye on the Safety score of the product you are considering.
To calculate the Overall Effectiveness score of a given product, we take the average of the other four scores: composition, potency, bioavailability, and safety. For best results, we recommend choosing a multivitamin product that has an Overall Effectiveness score of 8.0 and above.
The ultimate goal of multivitamin supplementation is to elevate the level of vitamins and minerals in your bloodstream so they can reach the cells and organs that need them. Each nutrient has an optimal range for effective functioning of the body. If teens have too little of a given nutrient, they can suffer a deficiency disease. If they have too much, they may develop undesired side effects such as diarrhea and nausea.
For the optimum range of each vitamin and mineral, please see the table below which was published by the National Academy of Sciences and lists the RDA and the UL of each nutrient. In this data, the RDA is the minimum amount of the nutrient a healthy person has to have through their diet or by taking supplements. The UL is the maximum amount of the nutrient a person can consume on a daily basis without risking any side effects. If there is not enough data to assess the potential for adverse effects in a particular age group, ND (Not Determined) will appear in the column.
Table 2: Optimal range of vitamins and minerals for teenage boys and girls aged 14 to 18
|RDA for boys aged
gils aged 14-18