Food for thought: essential nutrients for brain function and development

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A well-balanced diet in the early years not only helps set up your child for healthy eating habits later in life but also has a direct impact on your child’s brain development and ability to learn.

Shortages of nutrients such as iron, iodine and DHA can impair cognitive and motor development in young children. As childcare providers, we recognize that we play a critical role in ensuring that your child’s growth and development needs are met.

Below we would like to offer a list of nutrients that are essential for optimal brain development and function as well as sources that we implement into our regular menu.

 

Choline

Choline plays many important roles in our bodies, but it is especially known to be critical for brain function and development. Choline supports learning, memory, mental clarity, mental focus and concentration. Some research even shows that memory benefits seen in children supplemented with Choline lasted through the old ages, which suggests that Choline may protect against age-related memory loss.

Sources implemented into our menu: eggs, yogurt, buckwheat, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Multiple studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids help improve brain function and development in children as well as play an important role in maintaining normal brain function throughout life. One study found a positive association between blood levels of DHA and listening comprehension and vocabulary acquisition.

Sources implemented into our menu: salmon, omega-3 fortified yogurt.

 

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates supply the brain with the necessary fuel and provide a steady source of energy (as opposed to the fluctuations that can be caused by simple carbohydrates). Complex carbohydrates can help your child to be more alert and focused.

Sources implemented into our menu: whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas.

 

Iron

Iron plays a role in cognitive, language and motor development in children. Children with icon deficiency have been shown to score lower in mathematics and language tests.

Sources implemented into our menu: lean beef, chicken, spinach, baked potatoes

 

Zinc

 Studies show zinc plays an important role in cognitive development, memory and affects the child’s capacity to learn.

Sources implemented into our menu: beef, legumes, milk, eggs, whole grains

 

Protein

Proteins form part of brain cells as well as produce new nerve cells. Protein plays a role both in brain growth and cognitive function in children.

Sources implemented into our menu: lean beef, chicken, fish, legumes, milk products, eggs, oatmeal

 

Iodine

Iodine is a micro-nutrient that has been shown to play an important role in brain development in young children.

Sources implemented into our menu: dairy products, eggs, fish

 

Vitamins A, D, B6, B12

The following vitamins have been shown to be important for proper brain development and function in children: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12.

Sources implemented into our menu: sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli, buckwheat, dairy products, lean meat and poultry, fish as well as a variety of fresh fruit.

 

Below we would like to offer a sample of our regular menu for your viewing. We encourage parents to speak to our staff about your child’s dietary preferences to make sure that nutritional needs are met for every child.

 

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
BreakfastOatmeal with blueberries, milk (substitute toast, cheese, milk)Omelet, milk (substitute yogurt, granola, banana, milk)7 grain cereal, toast, milk (substitute toast, cheese, milk)Yogurt with granola, milk (substitute toast, cheese, milk)French toast with cheese, milk (substitute yogurt, granola, banana, milk)
LunchChicken noodle soup, fresh vegetables, bread. Milk Beef and vegetable stew. Fresh salad, bread. MilkMini home made pizzas, fresh vegetables. MilkChicken, rice, vegetable soup, bread. MilkMacaroni and cheese, fresh vegetables. Milk
Snack 1Fresh Fruit, crackersFresh fruit, crackersFresh fruit, crackersFresh fruit, crackersFresh fruit, crackers
SupperBeef with mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables. CompotBurgers with roasted potatoes and steamed vegetables. CompotChicken with rice and vegetables. Fresh salad, bread. CompotBuckwheat with meatballs in tomato sauce. Fresh vegetables. CompotFish with roasted potatoes and fresh salad. Compot

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
Breakfast3-grain cereal, milktoast (whole grain) with cream cheese, milkoatmeal, milkomlette, whole-grain toast, milk3- grain cereal, milk
Lunchwhole grain pasta with cheese, fresh vegetableschicken soup with beans, fresh fruitfish with rice, fresh vegetableschicken meatballs, fresh fruitbaked egg penne with cauliflower, fresh vegetables
Snack 1omega-3 fortified yogurtcheese, fruitpancakes with fruit, milkfrench toast, milkfruit yogurt
Snack 2cookie, bananaavocado toast (whole grain)yogurtpancakes, apple slicesapple slices, crackers

 MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
Breakfastbuckwheat, milktoast (whole grain) with cream cheese, milkoatmeal, milk3-grain cereal, milkcheese omlette, milk
Lunchtuna casserole with broccoli and carrots, fresh fruitchicken noodle soup, fresh vegetablesvegetable stew, fresh fruitsalmon with rice, fresh vegetablesbaked egg penne with broccoli, fresh fruit
Snack 1pancakes, apple slicescheese, bananafruit yogurtcookie, milkfruit, crackers
Snack 2banana bread, watermelonomega-3 fortified yogurtfresh fruit saladcrackers with cream cheesepancakes with fruit

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