It’s no secret that children today face increasing distractions from screens, hectic schedules, and busy environments. This can make it difficult for kids to focus and concentrate in school or other learning settings. Many parents wonder if certain vitamins might help improve their child’s attention span, especially if they seem easily distracted or have trouble sitting still. Research shows some key micronutrients may provide cognitive benefits for kids when included as part of a healthy diet.
The Basics: Omega-3s and Zinc
Two nutrients that have the strongest research behind them for boosting kids’ brain power are the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and the mineral zinc. DHA is a building block for brain cell membranes while zinc supports neurological function. Kids should get plenty of these from fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. If your child is a picky eater, an algae-based supplement is a vegetarian way to supply DHA. Zinc deficiencies are rare when kids eat complete proteins like meat, yogurt and beans. Just 10-15 mg per day meets their needs.
The B-Vitamin Team
Several B-vitamins are crucial for aspects of cognition. Vitamin B12 aids neurotransmitters while folate (B9) handles regulation of genes and proteins central to memory and reasoning. Riboflavin (B2) and pantothenic acid (B5) provide cell energy that powers all brain tasks. Vitamin B6 even influences production of feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Make sure your kids regularly get these B-vitamins from enriching foods like dairy, leafy greens, citrus, poultry and eggs. For picky eaters or extremely active kids, a daily B-complex vitamin can fill any gaps.
The Brain Boosters: Choline and Inositol
Two lesser-known nutrients vital for healthy cognition are choline and inositol. Choline is responsible for messaging between brain cells while inositol aids neuron signaling networks. Together these help the memory center of the brain encode new information for easier learning. Choline stars in egg yolks, meat and fish, often lacking in kids’ environments. Many multi-vitamins now include supplemental choline. Inositol sources include fruits, grains and nuts. An extra 100-200 mg of each after school may enhance homework focus and retention.
The Bioflavonoids: Quercetin and Rutin
Fruit and vegetable compounds called bioflavonoids exhibit brain benefits for better concentration and attention in developing minds. In particular, quercetin and rutin improve blood flow which enhances nutrients reaching neurons. They also increase levels of “feel good” neurotransmitters like dopamine. Good food sources include apples, onions, tea, buckwheat and citrus fruits and juices. Herbal rhodiola rosea extract is another option providing these flavonoids. Pair it with a food source or give 50-100mg a day to motivate kids’ minds to stay on task.
Avoid Too Much Copper and Manganese
While many vitamins and minerals nurture kids’ concentration, too much of certain ones may work against them. Excess levels of copper and manganese have been associated with decreased focus and more hyperactive or impulsive behaviors. Animal foods, legumes, nuts, grains, chocolate and even tap water can load kids’ systems over time. Steer clear of supplements with copper or manganese unless prescribed by your pediatrician. Stick to food sources and emphasize the attention-boosting nutrients instead.
The Caffeine and Concentration Question
Some parents wonder if a small dose of caffeine might help promote alertness and concentration when kids are tired or distracted. In fact, research shows it can briefly improve focus, mood and motivation along with attention span and memory. However, health authorities advise limiting or avoiding caffeine for kids altogether since it may impair sleep quality crucial for growth and learning. Occasional small doses could be trialed for older kids near exams under parent guidance. Pay close attention for any insomnia, anxiousness, stomach upset or dependence developing which signal it’s time to remove caffeine again.
Healthy Eating forresults
In the end, a nutrient-rich eating plan full of brain-friendly whole foods usually gives kids’ concentration a bigger improvement than supplements alone. Help kids pack lunches wisely while keeping their daily diet high in produce, lean proteins and whole grains. Stay on top of their nutrient intake via a kids vitamin, omega-3 DHA, extra B-complex dose or other additions tailored to your child’s eating habits and focus needs. Support healthy attention, learning and thinking every day by filling their plates regularly with concentration-boosting foods and nutrients.