Memory Boosters for Children
Parents always want their children to do well for their examinations. One way to help give children a boost is to ensure that they get the proper foods that support optimal brain function.
For a start, having a balanced diet is essential: one that is rich in fruits and vegetables with adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Foods that contain the following nutrients may further nourish the brain.
The benefits of omega-3 include promoting brain development. Omega-3 contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are the main ingredients for the benefits of omega-3. Low DHA levels are thought to be associated with problems with intelligence, vision and behaviour.
Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oils and some plant or nut oils. Tuna and salmon are the common animal sources that provide DHA and EPA and peanuts, walnuts and almonds are the common plant sources. For children who do not enjoy eating fish or nuts, they can take fish oil supplements. These are available as burstlets (capsules which burst and release the oils in them) and there are different flavours to appeal to a child. These supplements should preferably be given to a child who is two years old or older. A pharmacist can help to select the right fish oil supplement for your child.
Taurine is an amino acid that helps support neurological development and the memory power of children. It is also thought to have antioxidant properties which aid in brain function. Taurine is found naturally in meat, fish and breast milk. Most milk powders are fortified with taurine as non-breast-fed infants’ ability to synthesise taurine (from their diet) is undeveloped and cow's milk (on its own) does not provide a sufficient amount.
Choline is used by the body to produce the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which is essential for the normal functioning of all cells. Choline is especially important for brain function as it affects the areas of the brain responsible for memory function and life-long learning ability. Choline is also required for the transportation of nutrients throughout the body, including to the brain.
A rich source of choline is eggs and other sources include beef, cauliflower, wheat, peanuts and lettuce. Similar to taurine, choline is commonly used to fortify milk powder.
Anthocyanin and quercetin
Anthocyanin and quercetin are antioxidants that may aid in brain function. They are phytochemicals which are found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Common sources of anthocyanin are berries, cherries, eggplant, grapes, apples and cabbage. For quercetin, sources include onions, tomato, broccoli, apricot, apples and grapes. However, more research is needed to acquire concrete evidence that supports the benefit of this class of foods as a memory booster.
High levels of homocysteine in the blood affect memory; however, folic acid lowers homocysteine levels. Foods which are rich in folic acid include whole-grain cereals, soybeans, spinach, green peas, broccoli and oranges. Nonetheless, there is insufficient data to support the use of folic acid as a memory booster.
Ginkgo biloba has been used in traditional medicine to treat circulatory disorders and enhance memory. It dilates blood vessels and reduces the stickiness of blood platelets, thereby promoting blood flow. When the blood is less viscous, blood flows better to different parts of the body, including the brain. Increased blood flow to the brain increases alertness and memory. Ginkgo is commonly taken by adults to boost energy and to stay alert. However, the use of ginkgo in children is unsupported. It is not recommended for children under 12 years of age unless directed by a doctor.
Children need the right foods to grow healthily and choosing the right foods for them is important. This is especially so when the child is growing up as proper nutrition is required for healthy neurological development and memory function.