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Can your children's diet really have an impact on their powers of learning and memory? Absolutely. Scientists agree that nutrition has an important contribution to make in helping children reach their full cognitive potential.
Science shows that specific nutrients play key roles in cognitive development and performance. In particular, proteins, iron and iodine need to be present at an adequate level in the diet for normal brain development. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, ALA) and B-vitamins, including folate and zinc, have also been linked to brain development in children or the functioning of the brain.
In a 12-month study of 780 children in Australia and Indonesia, researchers assessed the effects of adding a specific vitamin and mineral mix to a daily drink. In Australia, children who received the daily drink with the added vitamin and mineral mix did significantly better in a group of tests assessing verbal, learning and memory than children who received the drink without the vitamins. So even well-fed children can benefit from nutrition with additional nutrients for the brain.
Most studies to date have focused on deficiencies in single nutrients in young age groups. Yet the brain continues to grow and develop during adolescence – it doesn't stop at a certain age as was previously believed. That's why it makes sense to pay attention to diet throughout childhood and adolescence. And that's also why Unilever is active in exploring the role of longer chain fatty acids and other important nutrients in cognitive development after the first years of life.
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