As a parent, you can raise a smart, confident child by focusing on brain development and the factors that contribute to increased brain power
As a parent, you can raise a smart, confident child by focusing on brain development and the factors that contribute to increased brain power.
Your child brain is complex, made up of various functional regions, cells, and circuits. As the brain matures, it needs to be built and maintained with a strong nutritional foundation.
How do different nutrients affect brain development?
Nutrition plays a key role in making the brain sharper. Macronutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, and fats, along with vitamins and other trace elements, help a child’s brain to develop optimally.
|Nutrients||Effects on cognition and emotion||Food sources|
|Omega-3 fatty acids (for example, docosahexaenoic acid)||
|Combination of vitamins (C, E, carotene)||
|Calcium, zinc, selenium||
Which superfoods can increase brain power?
1. Fatty fish
Fatty fish is the richest source of:
These nutrients are essential for preventing declining mental function and memory loss. They are also known to lower beta-amyloid levels in the blood. Beta-amyloid is known to form clumps in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Examples of fatty fish include:
Some ways to include fish in your child’s diet are:
- Grill fish and serve with a dipping sauce
- Add fish to tacos
- Make tuna sandwiches
2. Green, leafy vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables are rich in nutrients such as:
These nutrients improve concentration, thinking, and reasoning abilities. Examples of green leafy vegetables that should be included in your child’s diet include:
Try adding greens to your child’s diet in the following ways:
- Add spinach or kale into smoothies
- Make kale chips
- Add greens to omelets or lasagna
- Stir fry greens and add spices
Berries are rich in:
Both are known to improve memory. Examples of antioxidant-rich berries that can enhance brain health include:
Eggs are a good source of:
Eggs help prevent brain shrinkage and alleviate cognitive delay.
5. Nuts and seeds
Nuts are a rich source of:
These nutrients protect brain cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. They are responsible for elevating mood and keeping the nervous system in check.
What activities can enhance brain power?
Brain-stimulating activities and playtime can also help your child’s brain development. Activities you can try to make your child’s brain sharper include:
- Reading books together, which can boost activity in the part of the brain that is responsible for:
- Giving them age-appropriate toys to enhance their cognitive skills
- Solving puzzles and crosswords together
- Singing together teaching them to play an instrument
- Building routines for meals, play, and sleep
Medically Reviewed on 3/23/2022
Gómez-Pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7):568-578. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
Harvard Health Publishing. Foods linked to better brainpower. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/foods-linked-to-better-brainpower
American Academy of Pediatrics. 5 Secrets to a Smarter Baby: School Readiness Can Start Now. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/The-Secret-to-a-Smarter-Baby.aspx