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Feed The Brain

By Dr. Valerie Maxwell

Parents want natural solutions to behavior and learning difficulties. Myth and Hype aside, there are basics of brain nutrition. ADHD kids have been shown to be deficient in zinc. Fatty acids, magnesium and other nutrients. I am not a nutritionist, but psychologists study the science of the brain and nutrition to promote kids' clear thinking, better focus, memory, mood and attention:

1. All brain messengers, neurotransmitters, are made from proteins/amino acids. Protein for breakfast ("breaking the fast" of night) especially before school is essential for learning. Grades go up with a protein breakfast!

PROTEIN DOESN'T BECOME DOPAMINE WITHOUT B6 & B3; NOREPINEPHRINE WON'T BE MADE WITHOUT VITAMIN C. If Ritalin and ADDerall give the brain more access to norepinephrine and dopamine, then, protein in the morning is really important for kids with attentional problems. 30% of the calories your child eats each day are consumed by the BRAIN!

2. Omega-3 or EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids) coat the neurons or brain cells. The brain is 50% fat, not hydrogenated fats (like in chips or fast food-those are transfats and interfere with the absorption of the good fats-it's the good fats that line the outside of every brain cell). Make sure your child daily eats unrefined oils, like those found in fish, avocados, walnuts, almonds, sesame/sunflower seeds, olives/olive oil.

3. Water: water hydrates the brain. 4 glasses/day.

4. A quality multi-vitamin and mineral: "zinc makes you think!" 90% of Americans don't get enough zinc! When iron is added to a girl's diet, MATH scores go up 20%! The Gummi-Vites (2 a day at least) are easy for kids to take without fuss. If your child has sleep problems, make sure they have a good mineral (calcium/magnesium and ZINC). American soil has been deficient in minerals since the 1930's! You must supplement. Vitamin B complex, especially Vitamin B-12: Research shows that stress (e.g, anxiety and depression) eats up our storage of Vitamin B. B-12 shots have been given by medical doctors for quick relief of some depression. Lack of B-12 in mothers (e.g., Vegan vegetarians) causes learning disabilities.

5. Exercise: Keep the blood flowing! It cleans the system and oxygenates the cells. Keeps you young and fights depression and anxiety.

6. Allergies and Ear Infections: Chronic antibiotics erode the stomach lining. High gluten diets (e.g., pizza, chips, bread, carbs) gum up the holes and protein may be unmetabolized. Your child's brain might be nutritionally impoverished-starving for good vitamins and protein. Try some acidophilus (e.g. Probiotics), and yogurt to replenish the lining, flora and fauna of the stomach! Whole grain foods are healthier than white flour foods. Remember: the best non-allergy carbs. are: CPR (Corn, Potatoes, Rice).

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