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Dairy Council

Teenagers

During the teenage years, requirements for many nutrients, including calcium, are increased - milk and dairy foods can contribute to meeting these nutrient needs.

The table below shows the amount of calcium required by adolescents, and suggested ways milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yogurt can help to meet teenagers’ calcium needs.

The portion suggestions for a male provide about 1,002g of calcium and about 842g of calcium for a female.

Male 11-18
Calcium Needs:
1000 mg/d

  • 250ml semi–skimmed milk

  • 250g pot of low–fat yogurt

  • 45g of cheese

Female 11-18
Calcium Needs:
800 mg/d

  • 200ml semi–skimmed milk

  • 200g pot of low–fat yogurt

  • 30g of cheese

The benefits of milk and dairy foods for teenagers

  • During adolescence (from eleven years of age onwards) requirements for many nutrients, including calcium, are increased

  • The teenage years are a particularly important period for the development of lifelong bone health

  • The reason for the increased calcium needs during this time is that teenagers will experience rapid growth as bones begin to grow in length and strength. It is estimated that almost 90% of a person’s bone strength will have been achieved by the age of 18, highlighting the importance of a balanced diet, including calcium–rich foods in the lead up to adulthood

  • Unfortunately, many teenagers, particularly girls, are short of calcium. The latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey for Northern Ireland* reported that 19% of 11– to 18–year–olds are not getting the calcium they need. Some teenage boys (9%) are also missing out

  • Milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese can be an important means of providing teenagers with the nutrients, including calcium and protein, they need to support development and growth

  • A diet that provides the nutrients required for good bone health during adolescence can be one factor for determining bone health later in life

  • Milk and dairy foods can also contribute towards meeting other increased nutrient requirements for teenagers. Cheese, for example, provides protein which is also needed for normal bone growth and development, and milk and yogurt can help towards meeting increased needs for vitamins such as vitamin B2 and vitamin B12

  • The nutrient iodine is also important for teenagers to help support normal growth and cognitive function. But the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey* found that 29% of 11 to 18-year-old girls in Northern Ireland don't get enough iodine. In NI, milk and dairy foods are the main providers of iodine in teenage diets, contributing 44% of intakes.

  • *NDNS: Results from Years 5-9 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2012/13-2016/17): Northern Ireland

Find out more about the functions of milk and dairy nutrients for teenagers:

Functions of dairy nutrients

Milk & the nutrient needs of teenagers

The following shows the percentage (%) of a teenager’s nutrient needs* provided by one glass of semi–skimmed milk (200ml):

Nutrient

  • Vitamin B2

  • Vitamin B12

  • Calcium

  • Phosphorus

  • Iodine

  • Protein

Female 11-14 years

  • 45%

  • 100%+

  • 31%

  • 31%

  • 48%

  • 17%

Male 11-14 years

  • 42%

  • 100%+

  • 25%

  • 25%

  • 48%

  • 17%

*Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for male and females 11–14 years

Nutrient

  • Vitamin B2

  • Vitamin B12

  • Calcium

  • Phosphorus

  • Iodine

  • Protein

Female 15-18 years

  • 45%

  • 100%+

  • 31%

  • 31%

  • 44%

  • 16%

Male 15-18 years

  • 38%

  • 100%+

  • 25%

  • 25%

  • 44%

  • 13%

*Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for male and females 15–18 years