Main sources of micronutrients are breakfast cereals, milk, bread, chips/potatoes, and eggs. Surveys that report comparisons between intakes and recommendations have found satisfactory intakes for most micronutrients when means are considered. Intakes of vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12 C, and niacin greatly exceeded RNIs in the NDNS, perhaps reflecting high protein intakes and the fortification of popular foods such as breakfast cereals, bread, and beverages. Even folate, a problem nutrient in earlier studies, was consumed at an acceptable level.

Nutrient intakes that remain at lower than expected levels were iron and zinc for both sexes, and calcium and vitamin A for girls. Mean iron intake was particularly low in 11-18-year-old girls at 60% of the RNI (see Table 4). Mean iron intakes often fail to meet recommended levels in the majority of studies reported, particularly in women and girls. This may reflect avoidance of iron-containing foods, e.g., red meat, for reasons of perceived health, food safety, or dislike. Iron status is also hampered by absorption rates, which can be as low as 10%. It is important to reverse this trend as increasing numbers of young girls are now demonstrating clinical evidence of poor iron status, e.g., more than a quarter of 15-18-year-old girls in the NDNS. A New Zealand survey reported that 4-6% of adolescents were anemic. Good sources of iron are meat/meat products, breakfast cereals, bread, chips/potatoes, chocolate, and crisps. Around 25% of iron intakes are from fortified foods, which supply non-heme iron. The latter four food groups are not particularly rich in iron but, nevertheless, contribute over 10% due to the significant amounts eaten.

Poor intakes of calcium are of concern due to the rising incidence of osteoporosis in later life, especially amongst women. While average calcium intakes were around 80% of the RNI in the NDNS, there was a considerable proportion of adolescents with intakes below the lower RNI (the bottom end of the acceptable spectrum). In 11-14-year-old children, 12% of boys and 24% of girls fell into this category, while in 15-18 year olds, the figures were 9% and 19%, respectively. Good sources of calcium are milk, cheese, yogurt, tinned fish, and, in many countries, fortified grain products. Concern has been expressed that the rise in soft drink consumption has displaced milk from the diets of adolescents and this could be contributing to the low calcium intakes found in many surveys. Fluid milk consumption has fallen dramatically over the last decade in Western countries and this is due to a range of factors including preference for other beverages, dieters' concerns about calories, and attitude of adolescents towards milk. It should not be forgotten that physical activity is an important aspect in the prevention of osteoporosis. Some life-style practices, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, are related to a higher requirement for micronutri-ents, suggesting that specific groups of adolescents may be more at risk from a poor nutrient status.

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