Stronger Learning with Better Nutrition
Many factors influence one’s ability to assimilate new information in the mind. Students and teachers often find themselves suffering from mental fatigue, brain “fogginess” and difficulty with memory. Several factors can influence the way the mind functions. When the mind is optimally nourished with Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12, it is more focused and agile.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are key to a well-functioning brain. One study found incorporating Omega-3 fatty acids into one’s diet improved verbal fluency scores. This is believed to be because the brain is composed of approximately 25% DHA, an omega-3 fat. Without Omega-3 fatty acids, nerve cells can become rigid and inflamed, leading to poor cell function. Unsurprisingly, low DHA levels are linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease (1).
Vitamin D is also crucial to brain function because Vitamin D receptors that have been “switched on” by increased nerve growth in the brain. It also triggers chemical reactions in the hippocampus and cerebellum of the brain. These areas are heavily involved in information processing, among other functions (1). One recent study linked optimum vitamin-D levels to faster information processing (2).
Stay sharp! Vitamin B-12 is also a vital nutrient for a sharp mind. B-12 supports the brain’s myelin; the substance that allows nerves to conduct and transmit signals throughout the body (3). Memory problems and mental “fog” are two of the primary warning signs that a person is experiencing vitamin B-12 deficiency (1).
What Can You Do?
There are many ways of incorporating these brain-nurturing substances into the body. You can find Omega-3 fatty acids in fish, liver, flaxseed and canola oil (4). Most experts recommend 500 mg of combined EPA/DHA per day, which can be obtained through two fatty fish meals per week, or vitamin supplements (1). Get your Vitamin-D by simply going out and getting some sunshine! Most experts recommend taking 8,000 IU per day for adults (1). One way to get your daily Vitamin B-12 is from an animal source like milk, chicken, pork or eggs. Many vegans and vegetarians opt for vitamin supplements(1).
Eating the compounds that help to form one’s brain will increase the performance and mental acuity of students and teachers alike. Better nutrition helps students absorb, assimilate and synthesize the information and the lessons they are receiving in the classroom. In time, they’ll have extra energy to think long-term about the direction of their education and how they want to use it to contribute to society.
written by David Simon, Novastar Prep English tutor
1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/17/good-brain- health-tips.aspx
2. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-d- make-a- difference/
3. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/17/good-brain- health-tips.aspx
4. http://www.dhaomega3.org/Overview/Dietary-Sources- of-Omega- 3-Fatty- Acids