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Do Young People Need Supplements?

As a young person, it can be difficult to get a well-rounded nutritional diet. This can be especially hard to maintain when most of your time is spent studying, socialising, taking part in extra curricular activities or just having time to yourself. Young people tend to rely on their parents or guardians to prepare meals but sometimes it is important to take responsibility in looking after yourself and your health.

In the midst of exam season, it can be difficult to get the right amount of sleep but it is really important so you can perform in your exams to the best of your ability. Sleep is crucial for restoration, repairing muscles and for a healthy immune system. Without the recommended 8 hours of sleep you may feel fatigue, irritable or experience a headache which is the last thing you want during an exam! A good thing to avoid is caffeine and sugar which can be found in drinks such as Lucozade or Starbucks. These can be good to wake you up and stay alert throughout the morning but after 2pm, the body can find it harder to relax making it challenging to reach the recommended amount of sleep. Overall, it is very important to drink 8 glasses of water a day and to avoid caffeine and sugar. Water helps to stay hydrated as being dehydrated can give you headaches and make it harder to concentrate. 

Another important element of the body is the immune system. If the immune system isn’t taken care of, there are consequences such as stress, catching the cold that’s going around school or just feeling like you're in a slump that you can’t seem to get out of. To climb out of that slump, taking a multivitamin will help to cover all bases and boost your immune system. Vitamin D is also a good one to take especially during the winter months, the time when you need to knuckle down for exams, as it can help manage seasonal depression. Reasons why you may have a weak immune system could depend on excessively exercising, stress, lack of sleep or poor food choices. 

It is common that many young people tend to have a poor diet. This could be a consequence of a busy schedule, a lack of a nutritional lunch at school or just not being aware of what to eat. Ways to avoid a poor diet could be eating lots of fruit like berries and vegetables. Blueberries include lots of antioxidants which may help reduce the risk of developing more serious diseases. Also trying to have a large range of colours on your plate every meal can help improve diet. Another thing that can help improve health is omega 3 as it contains good fats for the body. Omega 3 can promote good brain health in early life and improve your bone and joint health during development. It also improves your learning and memory, mental well-being and blood flow to the brain which are all important factors when in school. Ways to include this in your diet are eating more oily fish, avocados and fresh tuna (not canned!). 

Supplements such as multivitamins can be a great addition to a healthy diet but are not a replacement for healthy foods. Young people that are vegan, vegetarian, or follow a plant-based diet can lack in B12 so taking supplements for this can help energy levels, be important for psychological health, brain function and producing red blood cells. Young women may experience iron deficiency as it can be common during the early stages of puberty. To help with this, eating red meat, beans, nuts and dried fruit can boost iron levels but there are also supplements that can help with this too. 

It is important to remember that every young person is different. Supplements can be helpful but it is important to get the recommended amount of sleep, avoid caffeine and have a good, healthy diet before looking into taking them. If you are wanting to look into supplements, you must seek professional advice beforehand.