Studies suggest that there is little difference in growth between adolescents who follow a vegetarian diet and those who do not. In the West, it has been recorded that girls following a vegetarian diet usually have their first period at a somewhat later age.

Studies indicate that adolescents who follow vegetarian diets consume more fibre, iron, folates, vitamin A and vitamin C than non-vegetarians. It has also been shown that they eat more fruit and vegetables and fewer cakes, fast foods and savoury snacks, compared to adolescents with non-vegetarian diets.

The key nutrients for adolescents following a vegetarian diet are the same as for other groups, that is, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc and vitamin B₁₂, so it is important to ensure a correct intake, as stated earlier.

Vegetarian diets are somewhat more common among adolescents with eating disorders, which doesn´t mean to say that a vegetarian diet lead to eating disorders, but rather that vegetarian diets might be selected or used with the aim of camouflaging a pre-existing eating disorder; so health professionals must remain alert for young people who restrict their range of foods, and who show symptoms of eating disorders.

To summarise, if a vegetarian diet is correctly followed, and a range of fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereals, and B₁₂ fortified foods etc. is eaten, it is possible to enjoy a very healthy and adequate diet.

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