Vitamins aid students in creating happier, healthier lifestyles; Specific supplements could target typical teen concerns such as acne, memory

by Olivia Paladino
Taking a multivitamin may be a valiant effort toward a healthy lifestyle, but that covers only the basics. Vitamins can do wonders for the body—some improve memory, some build strong bones, and others can help fight acne. Though some of these nutrients can be consumed through a proper diet, taking vitamins can substitute for what most commercial foods lack. None of these vitamins should be taken without the supervision of a trained physician.

For concentration
Next time Mom makes Brussels sprouts for dinner, think twice before refusing them. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are extremely high in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a substance linked to increased focus and better memory. In fact, a study conducted by Duke University showed that rats given choline supplements were better able to “accept and retain new information” than rats who didn’t.
For those of us who will still be denying our vegetables, Duke Health reports that choline supplements may have the same effects on humans.
“Some supplements that naturally boost acetylcholine are pantothenic acid (250 mg/day), n-acetyl carnitine (80-100 mg/day), and huperzia serrata extract (250 mg/day),” said Andy Rosenfarb, doctor of acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine.
For healthy bones
Building healthy bones early in life is important in preventing diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis later on. Teen bodies need a plentiful amount of calcium to supply the rapidly multiplying bone cells for  denser bones.
“I take calcium so my body doesn’t take the calcium from my bones that it needs for other organs,” said junior Conor Kelly.
According to the National Institute of Health, it is important for nine- to 18-year-olds to get 1,300 mg of calcium per day, which can be consumed through dairy products, vegetables like kale, broccoli, and soybeans, or dietary supplements. Taking vitamin D in conjunction with calcium will help the body to better absorb it.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician trained in both practical and natural medicine, also suggests vitamin K for promoting bone health: “Vitamin K could very well be the next vitamin D,” he said on his website. There are two types of vitamin K necessary for healthy bones- vitamin K1 and K2.  Vitamin K1 helps bones absorb calcium and protects blood vessels and arteries from increased doses of calcium, which can cause heart attacks and strokes if left untreated. Vitamin K2 has been proven to reverse bone loss and even increase bone mass in osteoporosis patients. Research conducted in the Netherlands suggests K2 is extremely effective in raising levels of osteocalcin, the protein that controls the building of bones.
For overall health
Omega-3 fatty acids have recently gained popularity because of the many health benefits they offer. These fats are essential to good health, but our bodies cannot produce them naturally.
Omega-3 acids are comprised of two elements- EPA and DHA. These fats are necessary for optimal brain function and better moods. Low DHA levels in the brain have been associated with low levels of serotonin, which has been linked to bouts of depression, violence, and suicidal thoughts, according to
“Since I started taking fish oils, I have noticed an improvement in my memory and concentration,” said junior Ryan Kalkstein. This is because consuming increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids strengthens the cerebral cortex in the brain, which is responsible for processing information and supporting memory.
Fish oils can improve the immune system by supporting its response to inflammation, According to Nordic Naturals, a  producer of fish oil supplements and winner of Better Nutrition’s 2012 Best of Supplements award, “when the immune system is triggered—for example by injury, allergy, or infection—fatty acids are released from the cell membranes. [DHA and EPA] are converted into molecules as part of the body’s natural healing response.”
For treating acne
Tried every acne product on the market with no results? The problem may lie within your liver. Similar to a filter, the liver removes chemical, hormonal, and metabolic waste from the body.
“In teen years, all this elevated hormonal activity, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and poor diets can cause the liver to be clogged with waste products,” said Rosenfarb. “These toxins may not be eliminated properly and can back-flush into the alternate detox system, your skin and lymphatic’s (circulatory system).” Dark berry extracts, like blueberry or cranberry, will help naturally clean the organ to ensure it is working efficiently.
According to  Mercola,  vitamin D can also help to reduce acne. Vitamin D is essential in promoting a healthy immune system, and without it, infection can spread throughout the body, be it on the skin or elsewhere.
Exposing the skin to healthy amounts of sunlight, which provides vitamin D, can create antimicrobial peptides, which fight bacteria and fungi to prevent acne. In order to generate the ideal amount of vitamin D without the sun, Mercola recommends supplements prescribed and monitored by a doctor.