Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Best Nutrition for Raising a Brainy Child

The important role of nutrition in keeping kids healthy has been widely discussed in the medical world. One issue that is sometimes overlooked in this discussion is the contribution of good nutrition, not only to kids' physical development, but also to their cognitive development.
Good nutrition plays an important part in optimal brain development and in helping keeping children focused throughout the day. This article offers some insight into the nutrition that supports kids' brain development and functioning.

Vitamins and the Brain
Several vitamins have been recognized as important elements for healthy brain activity. Vitamin C plays an important part in the production of neurotransmitters that are essential for the brain's information processing. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in preventing memory-loss and mental slowness and Vitamin B6 aids in the production of dopamine, which helps children stay alert and focused. Vitamin E assures that healthy blood cells deliver oxygen to the brain.

Other important elements are Iron (a study has shown that 84% of the children who suffer from ADD/ADHD also have low level of iron) and Zinc (which makes the brain use dopamine effectively).

Two key elements are Omega 3 and magnesium. Omega 3 is important for memory as well as for addressing hyperactive behavior; studies have also indicated a possible connection between lack of Omega 3 and low IQ scores. Magnesium has proven to be highly effective in easing hyperactivity and increasing focus and attention.

Food for Thought
What kind of nutrition is best for brain activity?
Both oatmeal and whole wheat bread are considered to have positive contribution to brain activity, and serving them at breakfast can give children a good boost for the rest of the day. As a side note, one unhealthy habit to avoid is skipping breakfast (a recent study has shown that 37% of the kids in America skip breakfast regularly) – which hurts both school performance and leads to behavior problems.

Unhealthy snacks that children usually consume can be substituted with healthier and equally tasty food. Breakfast cereal can be substituted with whole-grain cereal, while sweet and salty snacks can easily be replaced with strawberries and nuts (both have shown to contribute to cognitive functions). Eating eggs (a source for Choline, which helps in building memory stem cells) and beef (essential for preventing iron deficiency) is also important.
There are several good nutritional sources for both Omega 3 and magnesium, discussed above. Good sources for Omega 3 are fish as Salmon and sardines. Good sources for magnesium include avocado, banana and dried fruits.

See the following video for additional advice on children's food and the brain:


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