Hi again Gus!
As you know, this would be a great question for a physician or a registered dietitian. From a professional standpoint, I think young people are too quick these days to take supplements. From a psychological viewpoint, I think that the best answer would be at the very least age 18 if the individual is responsible and mature. Many older teens may think that they know what they’re doing with supplements, but with competition and pressure to outperform at every corner being so great these days, I think once you open that door, it’s hard to get it closed again. Supplements, to young people, aren’t always the same as what we would consider supplements in the industry of health and fitness. You see where I’m going with that? I think that popular culture influences are too great these days to really trust young people to make a good decision on supplements on their own. I’m not an old crow, being young myself, and if I choose to supplement my diet, I get advice from experienced health professionals before deciding on a course of action. That’s my personal view on it anyway.
As far as physiologically, I’m not sure when would be a safe age for young people to start using supplements. If we’re talking multivitamins, I figure there is a reason that kids’ vitamins are made, as well as other vitamins that claim to be “age appropriate.” Again, a physician or RD would be your best bet to answer this question.
Upon doing some research on the topic, I’ve compiled some information that might be helpful in answering this question!
Here’s what one Registered Dietitian has to say about vitamins for youth:
Here is an article that was written by an accredited coach that supports my view on supplements for young people. I think it’s a great article and worth the read: http://sundaytimes.lk/110703/Sports/Rugby_Talk.html
I think this is going to be the best article to read for a good answer to this question as it relates to young athletes. This article, set forth by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, uses green light, yellow light, red light to describe supplement use in young athletes. This one ties it all together, I think. Give it the time of day, I really think it’s worth reading!: http://www.crnusa.org/pdfs/CRNSNSGuidelines1102.pdf
It’s hard to come up with anything that doesn’t deal with young athletes or young children. There doesn’t seem to be a whole heck of a lot out there on supplementation for your average young person. It’s a very broad topic, and sports nutrition in young adults is a major issue these days, even though it stays under the radar for the most part. I’m interested in seeing what others say to this!
Just to be clear once more, ask a health care provider for a clear, definitive answer. Great question, Gus! You’ve given me a new topic to look at for a while!