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A Comprehensive, Expert-Recommended Guide to Helping Your Child’s Mental Focus

Contents

What Parts of Kids’ Brains Are Concerned with Mental Focus? Nature vs. Nurture: Are All Kids Born with the Same Ability to Focus?What Causes Lack of Concentration Among Children? Non-Modifiable Factors How Can You Help Improve Your Child’s Concentration and Mental Performance?Conclusion

Mental focus is crucial to a child’s personal development and long-term success. Children with good concentration generally do better in school, have high self-esteem and are motivated to accomplish their goals. Meanwhile, easily distracted kids experience the opposite, with each negative encounter causing a domino effect on all aspects of their growth.

Inattention is common among young people, but when it starts to hurt their academic performance, self-confidence, and personal relationships, it becomes a cause for concern. Your child is born with unique gifts, and it’s only natural to want to help them unleash their hidden genius. In this article, we discuss the many factors that can distract kids and what various field experts recommend to enhance their focus and mental performance.

What Parts of Kids’ Brains Are Concerned with Mental Focus?

Children are born with billions of brain cells connected by trillions of synapses. Different regions of the brain help your child focus, and they work in synergy.

For example, a toddler’s perception of hunger and sighting of food engage different neural pathways. To respond to hunger pangs, another neural network motivates the child to take action and continue until they are fed.

As in adults, children’s mental focus is the result of the combined actions of different brain parts, particularly the following:

1  Reticular activating system (RAS)

A collection of brainstem nerves involved in wakefulness and sleep.

2  Hippocampus

The seat of memory and learning. A child will also learn how to think symbolically during the preoperational stage. The ability to focus, short-term memory, long-term memory, logic, and reasoning are all developing during these years.

3  Sensory processing centers

Cerebral regions that analyze and make sense of what a person perceives from the environment. They include cognitive networks for calculation, language, and logic, as well as emotional processing centers.

4  Frontal and prefrontal lobes

The seats of attention, decision-making, motivation, cognition, planning, judgment, morality and impulse control. The prefrontal lobe completes its development in adulthood, well after most other brain regions have finished theirs.

5  Astrocytes

During this stage, a child learns how to think abstractly. They hone their problem-solving skills and the type of person they're going to become is made clear.

Adults are taught by experience to ignore various external stimuli and control their urges. Their ability to concentrate mostly depends on the activity of the above parts, which are largely affected by lifestyle choices.

By comparison:

“Children’s brains have not had enough practice to allow for significant pruning, habitualization, and adaptation, so they are more prone to environmental distractions on top of internal ones. In addition to the above regions, their sensory nerve pathways—sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste and position sense—greatly influence their mental focus.”

Nature vs. Nurture: Are All Kids Born with the Same Ability to Focus?

Some children are more proactive in pursuing their goals, whereas others are more laid back. Some “are not the forgiving type,” while others easily forget they were ever angry. Some are more adventurous, while others are overcautious.

These are all explained by differences in temperament, the inclination to behave a certain way in response to a stimulus.

In the 1970s, child psychiatrists Thomas and Chess theorized that kids were born temperamentally diverse, having different moods, thresholds of responsiveness, distractibility, persistence levels, etc. They believed that the combination of these traits determined a child’s goodness of fit into their environment.

“Kids are not born with the same ability to concentrate or filter their thoughts.”

Angry children who keep getting into fights and struggling academically will continue to resort to the same defense mechanisms without intervention.

“However, the brain’s plasticity makes it possible to optimize mental performance by training, therapy and other tools.”

Modern science and patient guidance have helped countless children turn their Ds and Fs into straight-A performances.

If your child seems to have learning and emotional difficulties, you need to find out how to help them focus better. The sooner you do this, the sooner they can overcome developmental barriers.

What Causes Lack of Concentration Among Children?

Children who have focus problems tend to be shy, demotivated, indecisive and full of self-doubt. They can pick up on their parents’ frustration and build negative perceptions of themselves. Additionally, labeling from other children, teachers or parents can make them too discouraged to try again, which often results in withdrawal or aggression. All of these can make it more difficult to unlock their abilities.

Does this sound familiar?

If your child or a friend’s has difficulty concentrating or paying attention, doctors recommend looking into the following possibilities:

Modifiable Factors

These are the more common reasons for poor focus and mental performance in children. A large majority are easy to correct, and thus, have a good prognosis.

1  Surroundings Full of Distractions

Examine your child’s learning environment. Extra stimulation of their senses can make them lose focus easily. At school, they could be seated next to classmates who would rather talk than listen to their teachers. At home, wall decorations, loud noises, strewn-out toys, TV and others could divert their attention from doing their homework.

2  Lack of Good Sleep

Not getting enough sleep tires out the RAS and can make kids too drowsy to pay attention. Check for things that make it difficult for them to fall asleep at the right hours or get good sleep quality. Late-night horror shows and electronic gadget use, midnight noises, bed bugs, uncomfortable cots, etc. are common examples.

3  Finds No Motivation in School

Our educational system recommends the same learning courses for kids. However, as we mentioned previously, children are born with different gifts and temperaments. Lack of interest can mask true intelligence, and it may be because kids find schoolwork too difficult or easy.

Tasks that are too difficult can demotivate young, inexperienced people. Meanwhile, too easy assignments can also bore them. You’ll never know the difference unless you sit with your child and investigate. Either way, lack of interest can result in poor focus and fund of knowledge.

4  Inactivity-Induced Brain Fog

Take a break and get your child moving. Exercise raises levels of oxygen, nutrients and the neuronal growth factor BDNF in the brain. All of these substances stimulate growth and synaptic formation in regions critical to learning, concentration and emotional balance. Sedentariness deprives your child of the mental benefits of physical activity.

5  Poor Nutrition and Energy Management

The brain needs food for fuel, tissue maintenance, disease protection and proper function. Poor neuronal nutrition comes in three forms: too little intake, too much intake and intake of the wrong kinds of food.

Children who eat too little are at risk for vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) and various electrolyte deficits. All of these conditions reduce mental alertness, attention and motivation. Hunger and thirst can also distract kids.

Meanwhile, children who eat too much may suffer from chronic inflammation and early-onset cardiovascular disease, which also impair mental performance.

Eating the “wrong” kinds of food can likewise damage the body and brain.

  • Lunches filled with simple sugars and refined carbohydrates produce steep energy spikes and crashes, making kids too drowsy to focus at midday. They also make them susceptible to “insulin issues,” i. e. diabetes mellitus and its cardiovascular and neurologic complications.
  • Saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol all contribute to plaque formation inside the blood vessels. They raise kids’ proneness to inflammation. Plaque formation and excess sodium increase the risk of stroke in the young.
  • Alcohol produces both immediate and long-term mental impairment. Acute effects include confusion, disinhibition, incoordination and drowsiness. Chronic abuse can make those acute changes permanent and also lead to liver disease.

Without proper guidance, kids may get accustomed to the standard American diet, which is high in simple sugars, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and sodium. Additionally, since children naturally get curious about many things, parents should watch out for signs of underage drinking or experimentation with alcohol.

6  Toxic Exposure from the Environment

Environmental pollutants (see table below) expose children to various chemicals, some of which can directly damage neurons. These poisons also injure other organs, so symptoms of toxic brain damage may accompany other signs.

For example, mercury, can contaminate fatty fish. When it builds up, it may severely impair children’s problem-solving skills and sensorimotor functions. Since it circulates in the body, it can also produce kidney failure, which is potentially fatal.

toxic-exposure 

7  Too Little Social Interaction

Other species are born with their brains almost fully programmed, but the human brain starts with a clean slate. Social interaction stimulates the neurons and grounds children’s expectations of the real world. The lack of it can lead to relationship and emotional troubles, which can divert their attention from important tasks.

Additionally, moderate video-gaming has been shown to enhance mental performance, but too much of it can deprive kids of opportunities for healthy communication with real people. Check your child’s screen time to see if they have too much of it.

8  Too Worried to Think

Poor psychosocial conditions (see table below) have different effects on different kids because of temperamental diversity. Generally, however, they put kids at risk of poor mental and emotional maturity, as well as psychiatric health problems.

Economic barriers can likewise prevent children from having good access to education and technology. Their detrimental effects are even more greatly felt now when online learning has become necessary.

9  Too Sick to Focus

Our educational system recommends the same learning courses for kids. However, as we mentioned previously, children are born with different gifts and temperaments. Lack of interest can mask true intelligence, and it may be because kids find schoolwork too difficult or easy.

Tasks that are too difficult can demotivate young, inexperienced people. Meanwhile, too easy assignments can also bore them. You’ll never know the difference unless you sit with your child and investigate. Either way, lack of interest can result in poor focus and fund of knowledge.

10  Down with the Blues

Mental health issues (see table below) in children manifest in a variety of ways. Without help, they can lead to poor school performance, as well as relationship and future career troubles.

11  Consider a Learning Disorder

Learning difficulties (see table below) have genetic and environmental components. Modern medicine and nutrition can improve them vastly, helping most kids reach their milestones. Those with mild impairment can become highly successful adults so long as the necessary support is given early.

12  Drug Effects

Some medications (see table below) can make children too drowsy to focus during school hours, so dosage and timing are important to consider. Ask your pediatrician or look at your medicine labels to see if any treatment that your child is on contains sedatives.

Non-Modifiable Factors

Inborn conditions that can affect mental performance (see table below) are rare. They are not always apparent at birth, and their manifestations range from mild to severe. Their course, treatment, and prognosis depend on symptom severity, with most needing advanced medical interventions or having no cure. Specialist consults are always necessary in these cases.

Those that affect the brain include the following:

1  Disordered Brain Growth Genetics

At birth, brain structures may be missing, misshapen, protruding from the skull, etc. Some can be corrected by early surgery. Others, however, produce epilepsies, failure to thrive and mental retardation.

2  Faulty Neurophysiology

Here, abnormal brain activity is not due to gross structural changes but may be related to defective micro-scale glucose and electrolyte metabolism. Most cases are due to incomplete development and resolve with brain maturation. However, poor nutrition and chronic illness can make abnormal brainwaves persist.

Rare, severe cases are associated with epilepsies that may or may not be eliminated by ablation.

3  Genetic Conditions That Indirectly Affect the Brain

These conditions impair mental performance by producing inflammatory substances, toxins, glucose and electrolyte imbalance, oxygen depletion, etc. Many children do well as long as their symptoms are under control.

4  Pregnancy-Related Conditions

Various maternal illnesses and adverse labor conditions can cause brain damage to the newborn. Some children survive with intact cognition and only mild motor impairment, while others have more serious manifestations.

Examples of Conditions That Can Impair a Child’s Ability to Focus
Environmental Pollutants Heavy metals like lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium

Organic fumes

Packaging waste

Industrial waste

Medical waste
Poor Psychosocial Conditions Psychological trauma from bullying, family abuse, loss, grief, witnessing a crime, family breakups, etc.

Overcritical language

Loss or lack of a guiding figure

Economic hardships
Medical Illnesses Infections

Asthma

Allergies

Diarrheal illnesses

Ear infection, hearing problems

Visual problems

Serious conditions like cancer, autoimmune disease, encephalitis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, meningitis, immunodeficiency, anemia, hypothyroidism, etc.
Mental Health Issues Mood disorders like major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder

Anxiety disorders

Body dysmorphia, eating disorders

Psychotic disorders

Oppositional defiant disorder

Substance abuse
Learning and Developmental Disorders Autism spectrum disorders

Sensory processing disorders

ADHD

Dyslexia

Mathematics disorder

Communication disorders
Medications Antihistamines, e. g. diphenhydramine

Anti-epileptic drugs, e. g. valproate

Anxiolytics, e. g. lorazepam

Antidepressants, e. g. mirtazapine

Antipsychotics, e. g. risperidone
Genetic Disorders Those directly affecting brain growth
  • Fragile X
  • Prosencephaly
  • Encephalocele
Those indirectly affecting brain function
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Pregnancy-Related Disorders Folate deficiency, leading to central nervous system malformation

Congenital rubella syndrome

Other forms of maternal malnutrition and infection

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Cerebral palsy, etc.

“The reasons for poor mental concentration in a huge majority of pediatric cases are trivial. However, since kids cannot articulate their symptoms as well as adults can, doctors routinely try to look for a more serious cause—physical, psychological, social, etc.—until it is completely ruled out.”

They could miss a potentially fatal condition if they ignored subtle neurologic changes.

As in any health problem, the earlier that it is addressed, the better are the chances for a full recovery.

How Can You Help Improve Your Child’s Concentration and Mental Performance?

Now, you’re aware of the elements that can potentially distract your child. Below is a list of expert-recommended actions that you can take to help them focus better:

1  Give Them a Room Dedicated to Studying

Easily distracted kids can concentrate better while working in a dedicated study room—a room free of distractions. You can do the following to create one for your kid:

  • Pick a room that exposes them the least to outside noise.
  • Teach your child to organize their things. Workspace organization lessens potentially distracting clutter and enhances focus and productivity.
  • Paint the walls with cool, plain colors. Avoid displays of cartoon characters and other irrelevant graphics.
  • Limit electronic equipment to only the kind that they use for studying.

2  Help Them Practice Sleep Hygiene

Healthy sleep is acquired by developing consistent bedtime routines. You can help your child improve their sleeping habits by doing the following:

  • Remind them to go to bed at the same hours every night. Cue them by turning off the TV and their electronic gadgets.
  • Encourage them to get their things ready for school, brush their teeth and take a warm bath before going to bed.
  • Paint the walls with cool, plain colors. Avoid displays of cartoon characters and other irrelevant graphics.
  • Read happy stories to young kids. Encourage older kids to make a habit of reading storybooks or light novels before sleep.

3  Teach

Sometimes, young people just need to be shown the way out of complicated problems. Understanding and solving drills on their own can boost their confidence and regain their interest in schoolwork.

Sit with your child and determine what areas they find difficult. Show them the correct way of approaching each problem and give them plenty of practice drills. Congratulate them for any improvements and motivate them to keep working on challenging questions. Hire a tutor for subjects that you think are beyond your expertise.

4  Make Learning Fun through Brain Games

Children who find schoolwork too easy can eliminate boredom by solving increasingly challenging drills. Related brain games can also make learning more fun. Studies show that, when done in moderation, brain games can sharpen cognition across various age groups. Different game levels are available for various subjects, including math, vocabulary, science and history.

5  Make Delayed Gratification a Tool

Temperaments aside, rewards stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers and create positive reinforcement. Children will happily control their impulses and concentrate if they know they are getting a big prize for it—an act called “delayed gratification.” You can motivate your child to do better in school by offering a highly desired reward, such as a new toy, fun trip or added playtime.

6  Let Your Child Run and Play

Push your child to be more physically active. They can start with fun activities like walking the house pet, dancing to their favorite tunes, racing with other kids, etc. You can also encourage them to play a sport. Athletics teach children lessons on and off the field that help them grow emotionally and teach them life skills like strategy and discipline.

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7  Feed Your Child's Brain

Diet impacts many aspects of health, including mental performance, which is why doctors do not overlook this aspect when examining or treating patients.

Mental focus problems caused by nutritional deficiencies are treated by supplementation with the appropriate nutrients. Meanwhile, children with phenylketonuria and the like are advised to avoid certain foods. For other conditions, doctors routinely complement their management strategies with good nutrition.

Heart-healthy diets include vegetables, fruits, grains, fat-free dairy, oils and various protein sources. Studies show that certain heart-healthy diets can become brain-healthy as well. One example is the Mediterranean diet, which can boost kids' mental performance and self-esteem.

You can level up a heart-healthy diet into one that also directly benefits the brain by choosing food groups rich in the following nutrients:

  • Alpha-glycerophosphocholine—enhances alertness, memory retrieval, muscle strength and other body functions.
  • Curcumin—sharpens the mind, stabilizes the mood and protects the brain.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids—speed up brain cell communication and absorb toxic free radicals. Studies show that children born to moms on omega-3-rich diets tend to have high IQ.
  • Trans-resveratrol—a powerful brain antioxidant and immunity modulator.
  • Uridine—a building block of RNA and DNA, directing the production of chemicals that enhance mental performance. It is also involved in many aspects of metabolism.
  • Vitamin C—an antioxidant and immunity enhancer. It also increases the production of chemicals that boost alertness and mood levels.

Aside from their unique cardiovascular health benefits, evidence proves that these nutrients raise BDNF levels in the brain. Ask your doctor about including them in your child’s dietary regimen.

However, some kids can be picky and difficult to feed. If putting your child on a brain-healthy diet poses a challenge, you can give them doctor-formulated Cover Three Kids Nutritional Brain Boost, which has all six nutrients packed in an irresistible smoothie.

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8  Go Green

Limit your child’s toxic exposure by doing your part in protecting the environment.

  • Avoid burning plastics and other materials.
  • Have fun raising greens together with your child. Plant trees if you live in a rural or suburban area. If you reside in a crowded city, grow a vertical garden.
  • Avoid or stop smoking. Teach your child about its health and environmental dangers.
  • Encourage them to bike, walk or take the bus when going to school. Make sure your kid has a helmet on when riding a bike.
  • Take trips to the countryside or beach to expose your child to cleaner air.

The list goes on. The World Health Organization states that cleaning up the environment can reduce childhood deaths and illnesses worldwide by 25%.

9  Have Heart-to-Heart Talks with Your Child

Talking to your child provides you more opportunities for teaching and investigating potential problems. Find time every day to do the following:

  • Set the rules. Teach them about acceptable behaviors at home and in school. Use gentle but clear words.
  • When correcting a child, emphasize the lesson and not the punishment. Being too harsh can push kids to lie.
  • Everyone has unique abilities that can make them highly prized in their community, so teach your child the value of individuality. If you have two or more children, avoid playing favorites or labeling anyone as a “black sheep.”
  • Talk to them about dealing with defeat, frustration and anger. Validate their feelings. Teach them better ways to respond in similar situations in the future.
  • Most importantly, children are generally afraid of reporting abusive treatment, but such experiences come with physical signs and behavioral changes. Examine your child’s body for bruises and cuts in odd places. Look for signs of anxiety, such as sleep difficulties, bedwetting, panic attacks, concentration problems, lying, etc. Comb through the words they use, which their immature minds can make up for things they don’t understand.

child-givesTalking to your child gives you more opportunities to teach or find out if something is bothering them.

10  Encourage Playtime with Other Kids

Video games are fun and stimulating. However, they can become predictable over time, so they will never be good substitutes for real-life interactions.

On the other hand, studies show that collaborative play with other children can speed up cognitive development. Such interactions stimulate critical brain regions, including language centers, audio and visual processing networks and areas for emotional regulation and judgment. So encourage your child to enjoy some playtime with their friends today.

11  Chat with Their Teachers and School Counselors

Talk to teachers and school counselors about your child’s behavior. If they cannot focus well during class, you can ask to have your child sit closer to the front and away from distractions.

If the child is persistently inattentive and disruptive even in front of authority figures, it may be time to look for medically treatable disorders. For example, ADHD is diagnosed when school-age kids exhibit these behaviors both at home and in school.

12  Find the Child’s Comfortable Learning Style

Just as temperaments are different, educational experts hypothesize that children’s learning styles also vary.

  • Visual learners learn better with the rich use of images. The text’s spatial orientation can also help them remember what they read.
  • Auditory learners may benefit from listening to teachers and audio-recorded lessons.
  • Kinesthetic-tactile learners understand concepts better by touching and manipulating objects in their environment.

Some kids do well with just one learning style, while others have mixed learning styles. School counselors and developmental specialists may help you figure out which one suits your child best and formulate study habits that work. 

13  Work with Your Pediatrician

Medical conditions like asthma and diabetes are still more common causes of poor school performance than ADHD and other learning disabilities. Take your child to the pediatrician for a checkup. The doctor can look for a physical cause and recommend treatments that can eliminate or improve it. Specialist consultation may be needed in some cases.

14  Get Specialist Help

If the primary care doctor finds nothing wrong physically, they can recommend a specialist to look for learning disabilities or psychiatric problems. Depending on the diagnosis, medications, psychotherapy, the use of special writing tools, etc. can help your child make dramatic improvements.

15  Adjust Their Medications

Medications for allergies, seizures and psychiatric conditions are some examples of sedative-containing drugs. If your child finds it hard to focus in class after taking their meds, ask your doctor to adjust the dosage, intake schedule or both. The doctor may also offer a suitable alternative drug.

As you can see from this guide, helping kids regain their focus does not have to be a one-man job. In fact, enlisting the help of a few experts may give your child the best chance at recovery.

Again

“if you sense any bothersome changes in your kid, don’t delay in taking action. The longer they stay sick or adopt a maladaptive behavior, the greater the damage and the longer it will take for them to recover.”

Conclusion

Mental focus impacts various aspects of children’s personal growth. It is the product of the coordinated actions of different brain areas.

In adults, those areas include the RAS, hippocampus, sensory processing centers, frontal and prefrontal lobes and astrocytes. By comparison, children have not mastered screening out unimportant stimuli. We add their sensory pathways in this neural circuit because of their significant influence on kids’ mental abilities.

Science recognizes the genetic differences among children in terms of temperament and capacity to concentrate. However, neuroplasticity enables them to overcome learning and developmental barriers through training, therapy and other tools. Children who can fully harness their mental abilities achieve mental momentum, translating into higher incomes and happier lives as adults.

There are modifiable and non-modifiable factors affecting concentration. The causes of impairment range from common, easily correctable conditions to rare, more serious health disorders.

We have presented here a comprehensive guide to help parents enhance their children’s focus. While there are many ways to help kids reach their full mental potential, it is best to identify possible problems early and address them as soon they are detected.

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Brain Food Diet: the Hands-On Guide to Nourishing Your Brain

Sharp minds are always at the top of their game.

There are many ways to boost the brain, but none is as important as feeding it the right food and nutrients. The link between proper diet and optimum mental performance is widely documented. By comparison, poor eating consistently shows a negative impact on all functions of the mind.

With the right diet, you can stay fit and sharpen your mental focus at the same time. Brain foods are healthful eats that keep the body strong and also power up your neurons.

Here, we explain the critical role of diet and nutrition in brain health, round up the best and worst foods for mental focus, and help you formulate a brain food diet plan.

 

Contents

How Does Good Nutrition Boost Your Mental Performance? What Is the Best Diet for Sharpening Mental Focus? What Foods Can Make the Brain Sluggish?How Should You Make A Brain Food Diet Plan? What Else Can Boost Mental Performance Besides the Best Brain Diet? Conclusion

How Does Good Nutrition Boost Your Mental Performance?

The old expression "You are what you eat" sums up food's effects on the body. Feeding it trash makes you constantly feeling sick and energy-drained. Giving it the proper nutrients peps you up and gets you ready for any challenge.

In the brain, food directly influences how you think and interact with your environment. You'll understand why when you take a glimpse of the central nervous system's inner workings.

Food Provides Energy to Your Brain Cells

Food powers up the neurons and their support cells so they can perform their tasks properly. Just like the Energizer bunny will not move with empty batteries, your brain will stop working as it should without fuel.

One gram of carbohydrates yields 4 calories, and proteins have the same amount of energy. Every gram of fat gives off 9 calories. B vitamins are needed to extract fuel from food. Iron delivers oxygen to burn that fuel and boost the brain.

People need all of these nutrients to stay alert and focused. If cars can run on clean fuel, so can your brain, and a well-balanced diet provides that.

energy food

The Energy Content of Food

Nutrients Build Up the Neurons

Calories do not tell you the entire story. Recent evidence shows that the quality of food impacts health more than the amount taken.

For example, some nutrients do not only perk up the brain but also help form new neurons and protect other structures. Such nutrients make up a "high-quality diet." On the other hand, “low-quality foods" provide only calories and no other benefits. They may even release pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body.

The following nutrients are found in high-quality diets:

  • Fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), make up the brain's cell membranes. These substances speed up brain signals, boosting reflexes, memory retrieval, problem-solving and other mental tasks. DHA and EPA are essential fatty acids. The body does not make them, so they have to be obtained from the diet.
  • Carbohydrates and proteins are the building blocks of many structures inside and outside of the brain cells. High-quality carbohydrates come from whole grains. Meanwhile, high-quality proteins come from sources that have more essential fatty acids than non-essential ones.
  • DNA and RNA are needed for new brain cell formation. They also initiate the production of hormones and brain-signaling chemicals called "neurotransmitters." Uridine, obtained from dark green vegetables, is a component of RNA. Thymidine, a DNA component, is derived from uridine.
  • Vitamins, notably vitamins C and K, help build brain cells, support cells, blood vessels and connective tissues. Minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. also aid in forming these structures.
  • Curcumin stimulates the growth of new neurons, powering up the memory and focus. It promotes brain cell regrowth and plasticity after an injury.

The best brain diet combines all these nutrients as each has a unique role in maintaining health and peak performance.

Diet Dictates Mental Function

A healthy brain has all its parts working synergistically. Cells communicate like clockwork when neurotransmitters and hormones are in a perfect balance. These brain chemicals are made using different nutrients, too.

  • Acetylcholine is derived from alpha-glycerophosphocholine, a substance found in high amounts in eggs and legumes. This neurotransmitter is involved in muscle movement, digestion, cardiovascular health, visual focus, maintaining wakefulness and many other functions. Its deficiency is responsible for most Alzheimer's disease symptoms. Acetylcholine imbalance gives rise to Parkinsonian involuntary movements.
  • Dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter, is made from amino acids, which come from digested proteins. Curcumin stimulates its production. Dopamine enhances attention, movement control, reward-motivated behavior and mood. It is severely depleted in Parkinson's disease. Dopamine imbalance is implicated in depression and ADHD.
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is another neurotransmitter made from amino acids. It induces sleep and prevents overstimulation of the brain.
  • Norepinephrine, another molecule that functions as a hormone and neurotransmitter, is made from amino acids through several vitamin-aided steps. It works like caffeine because it keeps you alert and focused. It also improves mood. Vitamin C, B vitamins and curcumin enhance its production.
  • Serotonin is amino-acid-derived and helps elevate the mood. Serotonin deficiency is associated with depression. Curcumin increases brain serotonin levels.
  • Brain neurotrophic-derived factor (BDNF) is a growth factor, a protein molecule that promotes brain cell resilience and regeneration. It enhances neuroplasticity and learning. Curcumin is a nutrient that can stimulate BDNF secretion.

Brain foods improve focus and mental performance because they are rich in high-quality nutrients that boost the above substances.

Good Food Protects the Brain from Disease

The best brain diet helps protect from illnesses that can drastically weaken mental performance. Uridine and B vitamins are crucial to immune function. Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and trans-resveratrol trap free radicals and other toxic substances that can promote inflammation. Curcumin and vitamin C help combat both biological and chemical disease agents.

In contrast, the standard American diet lacks these important nutrients. It is also high in substances that introduce stress in the body and aggravate illness, particularly, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and excess sugars.

Electrolyte and Fluid Balance Are Crucial to Mental Alertness and Focus

Proper nutrition and hydration maintain the smooth electrolyte flow in the neurons, which is also necessary for signal transmission. Electrolyte and fluid imbalances can compromise mental function and may be fatal in severe cases.

futbol

A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.

 As you can see, nutrition has multiple vital roles in the brain, so careful food selection is key to optimum mental performance. Sadly, many active people are so accustomed to the standard American diet, which contributes little to proper neuronal function and upkeep. If you're on this diet and feeling constantly stressed, depressed, and distracted, you might consider switching to a regimen that will nourish the brain back to health.

“When it comes to overall brain health, just adding certain supplements will sharpen your brain”

Bindya Gandhi, M.D
Integrative & Functional, Family Doc

What Is the Best Diet for Sharpening Mental Focus?

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of the MIND diet on mental performance.

"MIND" stands for "Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay," while "DASH" is short for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension."

Both the Mediterranean and DASH regimens are consistent with the USDA and HHS' concept of a healthy eating pattern. A healthy eating pattern includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat dairy, proteins and oils. It is also rich in potassium and low on sodium, added sugars and saturated and trans fats.

Studies show that people on a healthy eating pattern, such as the MIND diet, have laser-sharp focus, emotional and psychological balance and exceptional memory that can remain until well into the retirement years. Individuals with sustained focus achieve mental momentum that primes them for long runs of success in any endeavor.

In each food group recommended by the health experts, there are some with specific neurologic benefits and can, therefore, be truly called "brain foods."

vegetables

  Vegetables:

Vegetables have high amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and alpha-glycerophosphocholine. The brain foods in this group are broccoli, soybeans and turmeric.

Broccoli is a dark green vegetable rich in vitamin K, which helps build brain fats, and uridine.

Soybeans are legumes that have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals.

Turmeric is a root vegetable that has high amounts of curcumin.

  Fruits:

Fruits have lots of dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. The brain foods in this group are grapes, berries, oranges and cocoa.

Grapes and berries are rich sources of the potent stilbenoid antioxidant trans-resveratrol. Red wine, one of the MIND diet's main components, is made from grapes.

Oranges are rich in vitamin C.

Cocoa is best taken as dark chocolate. It has caffeine, which boosts alertness and focus, and different types of flavonoid antioxidants.

  Grains:

Aside from starch, which is a major carbohydrate source, grains have dietary fiber, minerals and vitamins. The best for the brain are whole grains like brown rice, oats and quinoa.

Active individuals may take refined grains as long as they are fortified with nutrients that are lost during processing. However, for better blood sugar control, whole grains must make up more than half of one’s daily carbohydrate intake.

outmeal

  Low-fat dairy:

Low-fat dairy contains 1% fat or lower. This food group includes low-fat milk, yogurt and soymilk. The fats taken out during processing are mostly saturated types. Low-fat dairy is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and alpha-glycerophosphocholine. Fortified milk and soymilk have high amounts of omega-3 oils.

  Proteins:

Animal and plant proteins also have vitamins and minerals. The brain foods in this group are fatty fish, poultry meat, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Fatty fish are rich sources of DHA, EPA, iron and vitamins B12 and D. This group includes salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines and trout.

Some fatty fish have high levels of mercury, which can impair mental performance, among many things. This is due to their exposure to contaminated water present in some geographic areas. They include bluefish, some tuna species, shark, king mackerel, etc. They are better avoided or taken in reduced quantities.

Poultry meat is high in niacin (vitamin B3) and iron. Eggs are rich in alpha-glycerophosphocholine.

Nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E and omega-3 oils. Nuts include walnuts and butternuts. Seeds include chia and flax seeds.

6  Oils:

Oils are fats with large amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which make them liquid at room temperature. The brain foods in this group are flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low on saturated fats. Olive oil, which is mostly composed of monounsaturated fats, is a MIND diet mainstay.

A diet containing all these food groups will help you enhance your mental focus, stay within a healthy weight range and avoid nutritional deficiencies.

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What Foods Can Make the Brain Sluggish?

For cardiovascular and mental health, nutrition experts advise limiting the intake of the following dietary components:

  Added (simple) sugars:

Simple sugars are present in abundant amounts in sweetened beverages, pastries, creams, candies, etc. It can cause blood glucose spikes—what we call "the sugar high"—which give the body and brain a huge but transient energy boost.

In normal young individuals, insulin clears excess glucose within two hours of eating, leading to an equally abrupt decrease in energy and mental alertness. Over time, however, chronic excess glucose intake will lead to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a condition wherein the body has a hard time normalizing blood glucose levels. T2DM not only results in cardiovascular complications but also kills off neurons.

The neurologic complications of T2DM include blindness, digestive impairment, numbness of the feet and hands and early-onset cognitive decline. T2DM is also a risk for stroke.

The recommended daily limit for added sugars is 10% of the total calories consumed. In a 2,000-calorie diet, this is equivalent to about 12 teaspoons of sugar. For your reference, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola has about 10 teaspoons of sugar.

  Refined carbohydrates:

Refined carbohydrates are processed whole grains. Unless fortified, they lose most of the good nutrients during processing. Even if they are fortified, one thing about them is that they can cause blood glucose spikes, just like simple sugars.

Sources of refined carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, pastries and breakfast cereals. Individuals who have them in their diet must replace at least half of their daily intake with whole grains.

burguer

A diet high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium can seriously impair mental and physical performance. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke all lead to neurologic decline at an early age.

  Saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol:

The human body makes saturated fats and cholesterol abundantly as they are important for structural maintenance and energy production. They are, therefore, non-essential fats. However, the standard American diet increases their levels beyond what is needed for normal function. They do not just raise cardiovascular risk but also have the ability to impair mental performance.

Saturated and trans fats are found in fatty red meat, whole milk, margarine, butter, cream cheese, processed foods and fast food. Unlike oils, they become solid at normal temperatures. In the brain, they can make cell membranes less fluid, making neuronal communication difficult. They can also induce inflammation and reduce blood flow, which can injure brain structures and decrease mental focus.

Cholesterol is a vital component of cell membranes and hormones, but the body can create its own supply. Dietary cholesterol adds to it unnecessarily. Excess deposits of this fatty substance in the blood vessels reduce blood flow, trigger inflammation and increase stroke risk.

The recommended daily limit for saturated fats is 10% of the total calories taken. The USDA does not set upper limits for trans fats and cholesterol but recommends that they must be avoided as much as possible. As a rule, most foods high in saturated fats also have plenty of trans fats and cholesterol.

  Salt:

The standard American diet contains a lot of salt, and therefore, sodium. Some canned vegetables and meat also have high salt content.

This electrolyte is needed for normal function, including mental tasks. However, excessive amounts lead to hypertension, which suffocates the brain and accelerates cognitive decline.

The recommended daily limit for sodium intake is 2,300 mg. This is equivalent to about one teaspoon of table salt.

  Alcohol:

Too much alcohol can compromise mental performance, and chronically high levels can damage the brain. Excessive drinking during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. And we all know why drunk-driving is never a good idea.

The USDA recommends limiting alcohol intake to one drink a day for women and two for men. One drink has 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol, which is equivalent to 12 fl. oz. of regular beer, 5 fl. oz. of wine or 1.5 fl. oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits.

drink

The MIND diet includes moderate red wine intake, but this is more for the beverage's antioxidant properties and not its alcohol content. People who prefer to have red wine in their regimen can have one glass a day. There is no recommendation that those who are not taking alcohol should start doing it. They can get the brain booster trans-resveratrol from other foods and supplements.

Except for alcohol, these substances are the principal components of the standard American diet. That is why there has been a steep rise in neurological and mental health issues in the last few decades. However, limiting their intake has been shown to enhance mental focus, delay cognitive decline and maintain psychological well-being.

How Should You Make A Brain Food Diet Plan?

A proven nutritional strategy for improving brain health is the MIND diet plan.

The MIND diet includes the following:

  Dark green vegetables—at least 6 servings a week
  Other vegetables—at least 1 serving a day
  Nuts—5 servings a week
  Berries—at least 2 servings a week
  Beans—at least 3 servings a week
6  Whole grains—at least 3 servings a day
7  Fish—1 serving a week
8  Poultry—2 servings a week
9  Olive oil—regular use
10  Red wine—once a day, but not mandatory

Meanwhile, it also has the following restrictions:

  Red meat—no more than 4 servings a week
  Butter and margarine—no more than 1 tablespoon daily
  Cheese—no more than 1 serving a week
  Pastries and sweets—no more than 5 servings a week
  Fast food—no more than 1 serving a week 

 

For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, a sample 3-day meal plan can look like this:

table days

These meals require short preparation time. However, if you are too busy to cook but want to ensure that your neurons stay healthy, there's always doctor-formulated Brain Assist.

Brain Assist has six of the most powerful brain boosters known: alpha-glycerophosphocholine, curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, trans-resveratrol, uridine and vitamin C. One pack of this delicious smoothie is enough to keep you focused throughout the day, ready to build mental momentum.

What Else Can Boost Mental Performance Besides the Best Brain Diet?

You may be tired of hearing it from the health buffs, and yet they're right. Studies show that consistent brain training and physical activity can also perk up the brain. When combined with a brain-healthy diet, they can improve mental performance and help stave off cognitive decline.

Brain games involve repeating various perceptual and cognitive tasks over extended periods. Playing fast-paced video games has been associated with better vision, attention, processing speed and decision-making skills among young adults. Engagement in commercially available computerized cognitive games has been found to improve mental function in older individuals.

Meanwhile, physical exercise is known to induce BDNF. This growth factor stimulates brain cell regeneration in the hippocampus, the center of memory and learning. Regular physical activity is known to help older individuals stay sharp and focused.

Other ways that can safely and effectively boost your mental focus are sleep, stress reduction and minimizing toxic exposures.

Conclusion

 

The best brain diet provides energy, enhances neuronal resilience and growth, promotes proper function, fights disease and ensures electrolyte balance. The standard American diet lacks most of these qualities, so it does not contribute much to brain health.

On the other hand, a healthy eating pattern, such as the MIND diet, has a combination of powerful brain boosters that help keep the mind sharp for a very long time. Sustained focus builds mental momentum, a major determinant of lifelong success. Therefore, active individuals who want to stay at peak performance levels should switch to such a regimen.

 

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best omega-3 for kids options

Omega-3 fatty acids are substances that have structural and functional significance in the body. They are essential nutrients—human cells cannot make omega-3s on their own and must obtain them from the diet.

Years of research clearly demonstrates the benefits of omega-3-rich regimens, especially among children. Many food groups have high omega-3 fatty acid content, but they may not all be appetizing to picky eaters. Parents may think of giving supplements, but they may have questions about their safety and dosage, or they may be unsure if they work at all.

In this guide, we explain what omega-3 fatty acids are, how good they are for the body and how their health benefits can help children crush their milestones. We also discuss their natural sources, how you can give them to the pickiest eaters at your home, and when to consider giving omega-3 supplements to kids.

 

Contents

First Things First — What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids? What Are the Roles of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a Child's Body? What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids? What Dosage of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Safe for Children?What Are the Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids? How Can You Get Your Kids to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids? Conclusion

First Things First — What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a class of compounds called "polyunsaturated fatty acids" or PUFAs. These substances have multiple unsaturated bonds, or "double bonds,” that let them remain fluid at normal temperatures—a property that is crucial to cellular function. 

dha

Omega-3 fatty acids are named after the omega-3 unsaturated bond. Three omega-3 oils are important to humans: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

  DHA

DHA is the central nervous system's most abundant omega-3 fatty acid and is critical to early brain and eye (retinal) structural development. Babies primarily get it from breast milk or when they start feeding on omega-3-rich food.

  EPA

EPA is also present in the central nervous system, but in lesser amounts. It stays less in the brain's fatty membranes because it is more involved in combating inflammation than DHA. EPA is also obtained from human milk and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

  ALA

ALA does not have any specific role in the body, but cells can transform it into DHA and EPA.

omega 3 fatty acyds, dha & epa

Omega-3 Fatty Acids That Are Important to Human Growth

Flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts are abundant sources of ALA. On the other hand, DHA and EPA are best obtained from fatty fish. Lactating mothers on omega-3-rich diets have higher amounts of these nutrients in their milk, which is good for exclusively breastfed infants.

Another class of essential nutrients with properties similar to those of omega-3 fatty acids is the omega-6 fatty acid group. In the human body, arachidonic acid (AA) is the most important molecule belonging to this group.

arachidonic

How is this information relevant to your child’s health?

In the body, big protein molecules called "enzymes" accelerate various chemical transformations. Some of them activate PUFAs in the tissues. Enzymes are big enough to engulf PUFAs, but omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete for sites within the enzymes. A balance between the two groups is needed for optimum health. 

“We need these(Alpha GPC and DHA omegas) in our children. We need these during pregnancy. We need these before pregnancy. Moms who are breast-feeding need to be taking these nutrients. Babies need to be taking these nutrients.”

Dr. Ari Calhoun
Naturopathic Doctor

What Are the Roles of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a Child's Body?

Omega-3 fatty acids have crucial functions in a child's body. The most important ones are explained below.

Building Blocks of Cell Membranes

The cell membrane is the barrier that surrounds every cell. It is made mostly of fat, but protein and carbohydrate structures are embedded in it. Some of these embedded structures "swim" sideways within the membranes when cells communicate.

Brain Cells Interacting at Lightning Speed at the Synapse

The Brain Cells Interacting at Lightning Speed at the Synapse

 In the brain, neuronal communication is a fast process. Children's reflexes, memory retrieval, multiplication skills, emotional regulation and other mental tasks depend on the signaling between different brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, mostly DHA, keep the brain cell membranes fluid to ensure that message transmission occurs within a split-second.

DHA starts to build up in the central nervous system, mainly in the gray matter, before birth. This process is critical to cognitive and visual development. Both DHA and EPA continue to deposit in the brain cell membranes throughout life, but enzymes act on them so they can perform other functions. That is why dietary replenishment is so important.

Skeletal and heart muscles also have high omega-3 fatty acid content. Body movement, such as when your kid is returning a tennis serve, entails fast signaling similar to that in the brain. Cell membrane fluidity is crucial in muscular contraction. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are needed for proper muscle growth.

Reduction of Inflammation

PUFAs play a significant role in inflammatory processes throughout the body. Enzymes turn them into inflammatory molecules called "eicosanoids," which include prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes. They are some of the molecules responsible for the following:

  Post-injury pain, swelling, warmth and redness

  Allergic rashes and cough

  Fever during an infection

Omega-3 derivatives have actions different from those of their omega-6 counterparts. The former combat inflammation while the latter promote the process. Both groups of molecules are needed for normal function. However, a higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids, typical of the standard American diet, can make kids susceptible to frequent bouts of inflammation.

In the brain, EPA is more often transformed into an eicosanoid than DHA. However, both inhibit the formation and actions of AA derivatives, helping inflammation resolve quickly after it starts.

Omega-3 fatty acids absorb toxic free radicals, thanks to their unsaturated bonds. They also reduce the formation of two other groups of inflammatory molecules, the interleukins and tumor necrosis factors.

enzyme

 Keeping Bad Cholesterol in Check

Cholesterol plaques are collections of excess cholesterol—another type of fat molecule—and debris that build up in the blood vessels over time. Plaque formation begins as early as childhood, and it can speed up or slow down, depending on one's diet and genetic factors.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), aka "bad cholesterol," is a combination of proteins, cholesterol and saturated and trans fats. The liver produces cholesterol and saturated fats after a high-calorie meal, so they're not essential in the diet. Meanwhile, trans fats come from solid fats like margarine and red meat fat, but they are not needed in the human body.

LDL hastens cholesterol plaque formation, clogs the vessels and reduces blood flow. Plaques trigger inflammation and eventually lead to heart failure, stroke, kidney damage, painful diseases of the limbs and many other disorders. Genetically at-risk individuals can develop these conditions as early as the late teens.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good cholesterol," picks up the excess cholesterol deposited in the blood vessels. Omega-3 fatty acids increase both LDL and HDL but raise HDL to a greater degree. A high HDL-LDL ratio promotes cardiovascular health.

Improvement of Blood Flow

Plaque formation does not just lead to inflammation but also induces blood clotting and blood vessel narrowing. Cholesterol plaque can build up in all body organs, but in young people, the most serious ones can form in the brain, heart, limbs and kidneys. Omega-3 fatty acid derivatives prevent blood clotting and blood vessel narrowing, improving blood flow in plaque-ridden areas of the body.

Kids stay strong and have brighter futures when they have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids aiding in these functions. On the other hand, sticking to the omega-3-deficient standard American diet makes them vulnerable to many childhood illnesses, which can keep them from reaching their full potential. The earlier kids increase their omega-3 fatty acid levels, the sooner they can gain their advantages.

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What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids?

Healthy kids grow up to become intellectually, emotionally and physically resilient adults. Omega-3 fatty acids support children's health, letting them become bold conquerors of life's challenges. Clinical and epidemiological studies prove the beneficial actions of these essential nutrients.

Improved Mental Performance

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to impact various areas of kids’ mental function and development.

  Cognition:

Higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids can enhance kids’ cognition. In one study, individuals aged 4-25 who received omega-3 supplements did better in word tests, serial subtractions, color recognition and other cognitive function measures compared to the placebo group. In another, toddlers breastfed by mothers who supplemented with omega-3s during pregnancy and lactation performed better in IQ tests than the placebo group.

  Sleep and IQ:

Fish oil supplements were found to improve sleep quality among school-age children. Additionally, sleep quality was shown to directly correlate with IQ.

  Mood regulation:

In one study, 12 weeks of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improved mood ratings in children and adolescents with diagnosed mood disorders. This supported previous findings of omega-3s being able to reduce depressive symptoms among the young.

  ADHD Symptoms:

A meta-analysis concluded that omega-3 supplements could improve ADHD symptoms, enhancing attention span, behavioral control and school performance among affected kids. ADHD symptoms are attributed to saturated fats, simple sugars, and sodium, which are present in large amounts in the standard American diet.

5  Self-esteem:

Adherence to an omega-3-rich diet is consistently linked to academic excellence, physical fitness, psychological balance and high self-esteem among healthy adolescents and pre-adolescents.

Good cognition, emotional intelligence and high self-esteem are some of the clear benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. These qualities help young people build mental momentum, which is critical to achieving and sustaining success in every aspect of life.

piano girl

Enhanced Cardiovascular Function

The American Heart Association recommends that adults regularly take omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular health. Pediatricians have yet to come up with a consensus, but the following studies prove their cardiovascular benefits for younger people:

  Omega-3 fatty acid levels inversely correlate with obesity and insulin resistance among school-age children.

  In one study, the intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplements led to total blood cholesterol reduction among overweight school-age girls. It also resulted in better blood pressure control among overweight school-age boys.

  In a study involving young kids at risk of undernutrition, the intake of omega-3 supplements increased blood flow to the brain, resulting in cognitive enhancement.

What this means is that omega-3 fatty acids can keep the heart and blood vessels healthy for a long time. Adequate intake helps ensure that your child will not be held back by a bad heart before reaching their peak.

Modulation of Inflammatory Responses

Research shows that increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake can reduce the symptoms of chronic inflammatory diseases among pediatric patients.

  In a group of school-age children, higher omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with fewer asthmatic attacks and a lesser need for bronchodilator therapy. Increased omega-6 fatty acid intake was associated with opposing trends.

  Various studies show that young women with lupus experience symptomatic improvement with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

  In a group of pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease, the Mediterranean diet, a regimen requiring high seafood intake, was associated with reduced intestinal inflammation.

  Preliminary studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may retard the development of some pediatric cancers.

Chronic inflammation wears people out, and its cancer risk is real no matter what age. Omega-3 fatty acids modulate kids’ inflammatory responses, keeping them on track to meet their goals.

Omega-3 fatty acids boost kids' focus, emotional intelligence and cardiac health and normalize their inflammatory responses. They help children effortlessly leap across the finish line instead of huffing and puffing in the middle of the race. If you want to help your kid become a confident and successful adult, increasing their omega-3 intake now will be your best move.

What Dosage of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Recommended for Children?

The following table shows the adequate daily intakes of omega-3 oils in the pediatric population, as recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.

table

*As total omega-3 fats
**As ALA. About 15-20% of ALA is converted to other omega-3 fatty acids.
***Increases to 1.4 g during pregnancy and 1.3 g during lactation

This table mostly refers to ALA as the primary omega-3 fatty acid source. However, only 15-20% of it is converted to DHA, the brain's predominant fatty component, and EPA, the body's protector from inflammation. Optimum development requires more DHA and EPA than what dietary ALA can produce.

How do you know if your child is taking enough omega-3 fatty acids?

Take note of the foods they eat, look up their omega-3 fatty acid content on the USDA's FoodData Central page and add up the numbers. You may compare them with what the above table recommends as the minimum for their age and gender.

However, optimum growth requires more, and the FDA states that children can have as much as 3.0 g of total daily omega-3s, including DHA and EPA. Additionally, you must make room for illnesses because they also deplete the body's stores of these nutrients. The risk of developing omega-3 fatty acid deficiency should concern you because the condition is damaging to children's health.

The standard American diet includes foods rich in simple sugars, as well as flavor enhancers filled with saturated and trans fats. And when kids look at their friends and people on TV taking pleasure in eating such foods, it's easy to understand why they would be tempted to do the same and pass up on your salmon casserole.

However, these edibles are low on omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acid insufficiency leads to dermatologic problems, poor cardiovascular function, chronic inflammation, behavioral issues, learning difficulties and the inability to concentrate. These complications can impair children's development and wreck their future.

If your kid is on this dangerous path, you might think of forcing them to eat healthy. However, parent-child conflict, even over small matters like food, can traumatize growing kids. Doctor-formulated Cover Three Kids Brain Boost was made to address this problem.

Similarly, Brain Assist can support parents focused on becoming the best parents they can be by giving them a complete brain-boosting nutrient combination.

“With the blend of turmeric and omega fatty acids in Cover Three, I felt amazing. And I've tried a lot of nootropics and with Cover Three I definitely experienced better brain function”

Dr. Amber Krogsrud
Naturopathic

What Are the Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Some of the known side effects of Omega-3 fatty acids are:

  Bad odor of the sweat and breath

  Digestive problems, because fat intake can irritate the gut

  Taste intolerance

  There has also been some concern about omega-3 fatty acids interfering with normal clotting.


Blood clotting is a process that depends on the balance between clotting promoters and suppressors. Blood will clot if the promoters predominate, but it will stay fluid if the suppressors prevail. Blood that is too thick or clots easily can clog the vessels and deprive the cells of oxygen. On the other hand, blood thinning can also rupture blood vessels.

Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to keep this balance. When taken in the recommended amounts, the risk of bleeding is insignificant. Studies among adult cardiac patients taking omega-3 oil supplements are inconclusive at best. Remember that some of them are even taking blood thinners for their condition. In children, one research showed that fish oil supplementation is safe even for high-risk post-surgical patients.

The FDA recommends that the total daily omega-3 fatty acid intake should not exceed 3.0 g, and as much as 2.0 g can come from supplements. However, according to the European Food Safety Authority, the consumption of 5.0 g of combined omega-3 oils daily has not been associated with adverse effects in healthy children or adults.

How Can You Get Your Kids to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

cereal

Now that you know more about the benefits and safety of omega-3s, your next concern may be about how to give them to picky eaters.

You can get kid-friendly recipes incorporating omega-3-rich foods, such as:

  Fortified milk, which you can serve as is or mixed in soup or cereals.
  Walnuts, which you can mix in pastries.
  Flaxseed oil, which you can mix in dressings.
  Canola oil, which you may regularly use for cooking.
5  And fatty fish—the richest DHA and EPA source of all—which you can bake, steam or grill.

However, we all know that the struggle is harder with some kids. You may try giving them fish oil, but it is known for its funny smell and taste and tendency to cause allergies. Chewable gel capsules are another option, but some kids don't think they're fun.

Last but not the least, you may try doctor-formulated Cover Three Kids Brain Boost. It has that yummy orange taste that kids love. Besides being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, it is packed with other brain boosters to improve your child's mental and physical performance.

alpha   Alpha-glycerophosphocholine

—boosts alertness, memory and focus. It also helps power up muscle movement.

curcumin   Curcumin

—sharpens memory and focus while keeping the mood up and protecting from inflammation.

trans   Trans-resveratrol

—a powerful free radical neutralizer, protecting the brain and body from stress.

uridine   Uridine

—aids brain cell development, body growth and immune function.

vitamin c  Vitamin C

—powers up the immune system while enhancing mental focus.

One pack of this delicious smoothie is enough to keep your kids sharp all day. You can give it plain, together with a snack or mixed with ice cream. Not only is it tasty and nutritious, but it is also safe to take every day.

Conclusion

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that help build cell membranes, boost mental performance, fight inflammation and ensure cardiovascular health. They are obtained mostly from the diet, and rich sources include fatty fish, nuts, seeds and fortified milk. They are generally safe for children when given at the right amounts.

However, picky eaters and chronically sick kids are at risk of developing omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Cover Three Kids Brain Boost is a yummy supplement that can ensure that your child is getting enough omega-3s to support their full development. It also has other mental focus boosters that can help them build mental momentum and secure a brighter tomorrow.

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