Brain Power! The Best Brain Vitamins for Kids
Aug 17, 2021
Whether your family is back to school or still soaking up summer vacation time, your young ’uns will soon be using their minds to solve problems and flex their creative muscles. As a parent, you might be wondering how to best support your child’s health and brain development — as a kid, pre-teen, or teen. One of the best ways to do so is with a healthy, balanced diet. You can do that by knowing the top brain vitamins for kids.
So, how do you best feed a growing mind? Let’s take a look.
Don’t Rely on Supplements Alone
There are endless options when it comes to supplements that address brain health, such as better memory, greater focus, and mental clarity. Kids’ vitamins are no exception. However, it’s crucial to not lose sight of the bigger picture.
Overall, the best option for your family is getting vitamins and minerals from whole foods. At Michael’s Health, we certainly believe in the power of supplements, but they are just that — supplements to a healthy diet.
As we go through the list of brain vitamins (and minerals) for kids below, we’ll also provide whole foods sources of these essential nutrients. That way, you can use your best judgment about what’s best for your children.
B vitamins are essential for a healthy nervous system, which includes the brain. Thankfully, kids can get B vitamins from a variety of foods, including:
- Leafy greens
- Chickpeas, black beans, and other legumes
- Meats like chicken, beef, and turkey
- Fortified cereals
- Whole grains
Strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries. "In general, the more intense the color, the more nutrition in the berries," Krieger says. Berries boast high levels of antioxidants, especially vitamin C.
Studies have shown improved memory with the extracts of blueberries and strawberries. "But eat the real thing to get a more nutritious package," Krieger states. "The seeds from berries are also a good source of omega-3 fats."
According to a clinical trial in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, teenagers and children might need ten times more vitamin D than the recommended dose. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health, calcium absorption, and much more. Studies have also shown a connection between vitamin D and brain development.
Good sources of vitamin D include:
- Dairy foods like milk and yogurt
- Leafy greens
- Salmon and other fatty fish
- Cereals and other grains fortified with vitamin D
According to Harvard Health, vitamin E is an antioxidant that may reduce oxidative stress, which is beneficial for brain health. Children can get vitamin E from supplements or foods like:
- Peanut butter
- Sunflower seeds
Harvard claims that vitamin E is the only supplement where studies have shown possible benefits on brain health, making it one of the best brain vitamins for kids. Parents can emphasize foods containing vitamin E to support their children’s brain health and development.
Iron is vital for good energy levels and mental focus — and kids need both to be successful in school. Iron is best absorbed from meats, especially lean beef. However, vegetarian or vegan kids can get iron from beans, bean burgers, and some mock meats.
Note: If eating beans for iron, be sure to have them with foods containing vitamin C. The non-heme iron you get from beans needs vitamin C to absorb well.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Let’s take a brief break from vitamins and minerals to talk about lutein and zeaxanthin. Both are plant pigments, also known as carotenoids, with potent antioxidant properties. These pigments may help with brain processing, memories, and school performance.
Foods with both lutein and zeaxanthin include:
Kids can also get lutein from kale, spinach, and other dark, leafy greens.
Most people have heard some association between omega-3s and brain health. These fatty acids might also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities.
The best way to get the ideal forms of omega-3s (EPA and DHA) is through taking fish oil or eating more fish. Kids can also get omega-3s from:
- Canola oil
- Chia seeds
- Brussels sprouts
However, plant foods contain the ALA form of omega-3 that your body must convert to EPA or DHA, making the process less efficient.
The Bottom Line
The world is starting to take brain health more seriously, which is great for kids and adults alike. Parents can help support their kids’ brains this school year by offering whole foods options and paying attention to these best brain vitamins for kids.