Seems like the Christmas holidays comes to an abrupt end when we make that mad dash to the store for school supplies and new clothes! “Back to school” is upon us, and it is time to get our brains into gear after some summertime fun in the sun. How can we support the learning process for our kids in preschool all the way to our young adults entering college? Perhaps a little brain food is in order.
The Brain – A Work in Progress
It was once believed that the brain was fully developed at birth. While it is true that most of the brain’s cells (about 100 billion of them) are formed by this time, new equipment and technological advances have allowed researchers to see that the brain continues to form after birth. An incredible network of connections called brain circuitry or wiring is developed over time.
This growth proceeds in waves with different parts of the brain becoming “actively built” at different times. “Prime Time” Periods of Brain Development in Children are:
- Visual/Auditory Development birth to 4–5 years
- Language Development birth to 10 years
- Physical and Motor Development birth to 12 years
- Emotional/Social Development birth to 12 years
The Teen Brain
Recent research suggests that development in the frontal lobe of the brain continues throughout adolescence and well into the early twenties. This frontal lobe is associated with impulse control, setting priorities, planning and organization skills, decision making, empathy, and insight. Ever wondered why your teenager was not acting and thinking like you would? Adolescent brains are still developing and are not yet equipped to think through situations in the same way that adults do.
Feed the Brain
This amazing piece of equipment called the brain is like a computer that is responsible for controlling and coordinating many of the fundamental systems and activities of our bodies…even our moods! Nurturing and feeding our brains, especially for young developing minds, should be at the top of our list every day to ensure an adequate intake of essential nutrients. EFAs have been shown to play a key role in the health of the brain. Since the brain is made up of 60% fat, and with half of the fat being the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, it’s truly a “no-brainer.” Since omega-3s are not produced by the body, we have a responsibility to make sure we get them through our diet or supplementation.
Smart Tips – Switched on Kids
Fish oil research has provided us with a great foundation on how to efficiently feed the body and mind, demonstrating wonderful possibilities for improved performance and capability at school and in other areas of our lives. Investing in a quality fish oil supplement might just make the difference. Take a look at these findings:
Fish Oil Linked to Improved Learning, Memory and Spelling Ability
South African researchers tracked the development of 355 children aged 6 through 9 on fish oil supplements. The study showed not only improved verbal learning and spelling ability, but subjects also retained information better and were less inclined to take sick days.
REF: F. C. H. Lacroix. Highlights from the 6th International Congress on Essential Fatty Acids and Eicosanoids and PUFA in Maternal and Infant Health. 2007; Nutrition Bulletin 32: 77–81.
Fish Oil Improves Behaviour of Children
A fish oil study out of Durham showed improvement in the behaviour of unruly children while developing their concentration and bonding with their parents. The researchers found that after five months, the group taking the fish oil supplement had made the equivalent of nearly 9 months’ improvement in expressive language ability.
Teenagers’ Test Scores Soar After Taking Fish Oil
In a United Kingdom study, 184 teenagers aged 15–16, at a school for the behaviourally challenged, were given fish oil supplements for 12 weeks prior to taking the usual standardized test for this age group. On average, they exceeded the results predicted for them by one grade, with girls showing the biggest improvement.
Taking Fish Oils Helps Children Manage Anger
Children with severe behavioural problems were better at controlling their angry outbursts during a six-month trial of fish oil supplementation. Researchers at Eaton Hall School in Norwich recorded a 68% reduction in violent behaviour when their pupils aged 10–16 were eating a healthy diet along with a fish oil supplement.
Fish Oil Supports Attention, Learning, & Behavior
A study from the University of South Australia studied, over a 15-week period, 132 children aged 7–12 with ADHD, who were not on medication. Results showed that the children on fish oil capsules were calmer, less impulsive, and showed improvements in attention, behaviour, and vocabulary. REF: F. C. H. Lacroix. Highlights from the 6th International Congress on Essential Fatty Acids and Eicosanoids and PUFA in Maternal and Infant Health. 2007; Nutrition Bulletin 32: 77–81.