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The Healthy Benefits of Nutrition in Cognitive Development in Early Childhood Development

Updated on September 7, 2014

Recent research studies have shown the benefits of nutrition in the development of the brain. Nutrition plays a big role in cognitive development in children, therefore it is imperative for parents to ensure they provide a healthy balanced diet to their children.

The studies further show some nutrients play a major role in the optimal development of the brain and cognitive functions. These nutrients among others are: iron, iodine, zinc, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin B12.


This is clearly noted by SFGate, "Because so many nutrients contribute to cognitive function, you should focus on maintaining a balanced and healthy diet that will provide all the nutrients you need for cognition. Some foods prove particularly rich in cognition-friendly nutrients. Salmon, for example, contains many nutrients required for cognition - protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, Vitamin E and potassium. Kale also contains nutrients for cognition, offering protein, B-vitamins and calcium."

According to DiseaseProof a study found when toddlers were provided with diets rich on fruits and vegetables, they possessed higher IQ scores by the time they reached the age of eight years. This is in contrast to toddlers who were provided with processed foods which contained lots of sugar and fat. These processed foods "had a dramatic long term effect on their brain function."

The brain of a human being grows fast between the ages of 20 to 36 weeks. This continues until the age of 20 months. Therefore, from the time of birth through the age of 2 years a child will have gone through several stages of cognitive development. Also, they will have undergone several stages of language and sensory development.

When parents provide their children with a healthy balanced diets rich especially rich in vegetables and fruits as they contain high amount of minerals and vitamins, the children tend to have high IQ levels, they possess a fairly good memory skills, their academic performance is good coupled with their high level of intelligence. In short, their fast-growing brains is improved at a greater rate.

 Fruits vegetables milk and yogurt
Fruits vegetables milk and yogurt | Source

Pregnant women should ensure they do not drink, smoke or eat food containing high calories. This coupled with lack of eating fruits and vegetables containing low calories will result to the pregnant woman gaining weight. When the pregnant woman has a lo of weight gain, it will interfere with the brain of the unborn child which in the long run might lead to the child performing poorly in school and their as per IQ level will be low.

Mothers should ensure they breastfed their children past one year as studies have proved breastfeeding does help in cognitive development in young children. This results from the fact the milk from the mother's breast contains two fats, namely: DHA and arachidonic acid. These two fatty acids improve some motor responses and eyesight. This is not the case with the cow's milk and infant formula. Nevertheless, breast milk does not only provide these two fatty acids but also other benefits which all help in the development of the brain, immune, respiratory and central nervous system, and the overall health of the child.

Children's Diet and IQ

Pregnant women should also ensure they include omega-3 fatty acids and iron in their diet. A study done by Harvard Medical School showed when pregnant women don't get enough omega-3 fatty acids it might lead to a reduction or low levels of cognitive development. On the other hand, iron helps in the delivery of oxygen from the mother's body to the baby's growing body.

Education Minister pictured with pupil Cormac Wilkinson during his visit to Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School in Ardoyne
Education Minister pictured with pupil Cormac Wilkinson during his visit to Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School in Ardoyne | Source

In conclusion, "The foods children consume early in life provides them with the raw materials to construct their brains and ultimately supply their brain power. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds is the only way to ensure children get an array of phytochemicals, antioxidants, fatty acids and other micro-nutrients to adequately supply their growing brains. (DiseaseProof)

© 2014 Alianess Benny Njuguna


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    • CzemarSanders profile image

      Czemar Sanders 3 years ago from Davie, Florida

      I have experienced working in both highly urbanized and non-urbanized communities. There is actually a big difference in the learning process of the learners. It greatly affect their performance in school when they lack proper nutrition needed for their everyday activities.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Having worked in a high poverty area with young children, it was readily evident that diet had a significant impact on the cognitive development of these children. Many of the families depended upon commodity delivery for their food, and it is high in processed content and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.