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Nutritional Needs for a Teen Girl vs. Boy

By Diane Lynn

Girls and boys go through rapid changes during adolescence. Social situations, new freedoms and an increasing sense of independence can be challenging for teenagers, and a nutritionally balanced diet remains important during this exciting time. Although boys and girls need the nutrients as part of their diet, the amounts they require vary depending on their activity level and gender.

Basic Nutrition

Both boys and girls need to eat a balanced diet during the teenage years. Both genders should limit the amount of sugar they consume to help control their caloric intake and should keep their sodium consumption to 2,300 milligrams a day, according to the nonprofit organization HelpGuide. Girls and boys in their teenage years should eat several servings of vegetables and fruits each day, consume mainly whole grains, choose low-fat or fat-free dairy offerings and eat a variety of lean protein choices each day.

Calorie Requirements

The calorie requirements of teenage boys and girls vary because of differences in weight and amount of lean muscle mass. A teenage boy between the ages of 13 and 15 needs between 2,000 and 3.000 calories a day, depending on his activity level. A male from 16 to 19 years old requires between 2,400 to 3,200 calories each day. Female teenagers from 13 to 15 years old need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories each day, and those between 16 and 19 years old require 1,800 to 2,400 calories. Both boys and girls who are relatively inactive need fewer calories than teens who participate in sports or have a very active lifestyle.

Protein Intake

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans indicates that the protein requirements for teenage boys and girls differ slightly. Boys between 14 and 18 years old need about 52 grams of protein a day, while girls in the same age range require 46 grams. Boys and girls who are 13 years old both need about 34 grams of protein. Good sources of protein include fish, skinless poultry, beans, fat-free or low-fat dairy products and lean cuts of beef.


Teen boys and girls require the same amount of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium. Minerals where the requirements vary between the two genders include iron, magnesium and zinc. Female teens need 15 milligrams of iron daily, and male teens need 11 milligrams. Females need only 360 milligrams of magnesium a day to a male teen's 410 milligrams. The daily zinc requirement for girls stands at 9 milligrams, and boys need 11 milligrams. A teen's body uses magnesium for both nerve and muscle function and zinc for a strong immune system, according to TeensHealth.


Teen girls need just 700 micrograms of vitamin A, and boys require 900 micrograms a day. Food rich in vitamin A include carrots, pumpkin, eggs, butter and cantaloupe. Female teens also need less vitamin C than do boys: 65 milligrams a day for girls compared with about 75 milligrams a day for boys. Other vitamin requirements that vary between adolescent girls and boys include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 and choline. Girls need slightly less of these vitamins because of their generally smaller stature and body weight.

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