The adjustments to new learning arrangements can be both challenging for children and parents. But studies show there are key nutrients that help develop faster and stronger brain connections so kids can easily absorb and apply what they learn.
Often referred to as the “good” fat, omega-3 fatty acid such as DHA plays a critical role in preserving cognitive functions of the brain, such as determining brain processing speed and memory. According to a 2014 study by Robert K. McNamara, et al., DHA promotes sustained attention, improved reading performance, improved verbal learning ability, and improved memory. Further, a 2016 study conducted in Sweden showed kids who took supplements with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids had improved reading skills.
Avocado, olive oil, and nuts are great sources of unsaturated fat, however, DHA is one of the hardest to obtain. DHA-rich food options include fatty fish such as tuna and salmon, so best introduce them early to children.
Known for its benefits for eye health, skin health, and cardiovascular health, lutein is a carotenoid that is also becoming increasingly recognized for its benefits on brain health in people of all ages. In children, lutein protects important nutrients like DHA from oxidation so that they can be used for brain development.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study by Emily Bovier and others reveals that higher levels of lutein in the retina is significantly correlated with faster visual processing speed, it’s also found to result in overall academic achievement, higher mathematic test scores, and higher written language test scores, according to another study by Sasha M. Barnett, et al.
Known sources of this nutrient are dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, as well as tomatoes.
Natural vitamin E
Naturally found in parts of the brain that are linked to memory, vision, and language development, natural vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that complements lutein in protecting DHA from free radicals in the environment.
However, take note that natural vitamins is preferred over synthetic, as identified by Matthew Kuchan, et al.’s recent study that shows the brain preferentially accumulates naturally occurring vitamin E (labeled “d-alpha-tocopherol”) over synthetic (“rrr-a-tocopherol”).
Best sources of natural vitamin E include eggs, broccoli, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts.
2’ - FL (fucosyllactose) HMO
This immune-nourishing prebiotic serves as food for the good bacteria in the gut and prevents bad bacteria from attaching to gut cells, in order to boost a child’s immune system. Experts opine that when children have strong immunity, they have a strong foundation to keep learning, growing, and thriving.
The following key nutrients that help in children’s cognitive performance are present in children’s milk brand Similac GainSchool by Abbott.
“We believe in the power of nutrition for faster learning, which is especially relevant in today’s trying times. Similac GainSchool contains key brain nutrients such as DHA, lutein, natural vitamin E, ARA, choline, taurine, iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine that support faster brain processing, strengthen neuronal connections, and consequently, support better cognitive performance,” says Dr. Jose Rodolfo Dimaano Jr., medical director of nutrition at Abbott.
Dr. Dimaano adds, “The HMO in Similac GainSchool helps strengthen the immune system by nourishing the good bacteria in the gut, where 70 percent of the immune system is located.”
To further help parents assess how their kids are faring when it comes to learning, Similac GainSchool identifies the following:
1. Intellect demonstrated by the visual monitoring and integration ability of the kids.
2. Social skills are demonstrated when kids carry strong language skills and increased vocabulary.
3. Arts demonstrate children’s enhanced memory skills.
4. Sports demonstrate kids’ ability to listen, comprehend, and strategize.
5. Emotional outcomes are demonstrated by children’s ability to regulate their behavior and sustain attention.
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