Nutrition Improves Schoolchildren’s Learning and Memory

In a 12 month study of 780 children in Australia and Indonesia, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers assessed the effects of adding a specific vitamin and mineral mix to a daily drink.
In Australia, children that received the daily drink with the added vitamin and mineral mix performed significantly better on mental performance tests than children in a control group that received the drink without added nutrients. In Indonesia a similar trend was observed, but only in the girls.
This study confirms that nutrition can positively influence cognitive development in schoolchildren, even in western children who are well-fed.

The scientists studied 396 well-nourished children in Australia and 384 poorly nourished children in Indonesia. In each country, the children were randomly allocated to one of four groups, receiving a drink with either a mix of micronutrients (iron, zinc, folate and vitamins A, B-6, B-12 and C) or with fish-oil (DHA and EPA), or with both added, or with nothing added (placebo).

After twelve months, children in Australia who received the drink with the nutrient mix showed higher blood levels of these micronutrients, which means that their bodies were taking up the nutrients. In addition, they performed significantly better on tests measuring their learning and memory capabilities compared to children in the other groups. A similar trend was observed in Indonesia, but only in the girls. The addition of fish oil to the fortified drink did not conclusively show any additional effects on cognition.

This study adds to the mounting evidence that nutrition plays an important role in mental development in children. Previously, deficiencies in iron and iodine have been linked to impaired cognitive development in young children; there is also emerging evidence that deficiencies in zinc, folate and vitamin B12 compromise mental development in children. More recently, fish oils (EPA, DHA) have also been linked to child cognitive development.

Most studies to date have focused on deficiencies in single nutrients in young age groups. Yet the brain continues to grow and develop during childhood and adolescence. Little is known about the role of nutrition for mental development after the age of 2, nor have many studies looked at the effect of offering a mix of nutrients. Until this study, there were very few randomized controlled intervention studies assessing the impact of a multiple-micronutrient intervention on cognitive function in schoolchildren.

This study confirms that nutrition can positively influence cognitive development in schoolchildren, even in children who are well-fed. The researchers suggest that this finding could be relevant across the western world.
The investigators recommend further research to investigate the exact role of DHA and EPA in healthy school-aged children. Another research focus is the further optimization of cognitive development tests with respect to their validity and sensitivity across cultures. The scientists suggest that the smaller effects of the vitamins and minerals in Indonesia could be a result of a lower sensitivity of the cognitive tests in that country.

This study was performed by the NEMO study group (Nutrition Enhancement for Mental Optimization), which consists of the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute (Vlaardingen, The Netherlands); CSIRO, Human Nutrition (Adelaide, Australia) and the SEAMEO-TROPMED Regional Center for Community Nutrition, University of Indonesia (Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia).

http://www.unilever.com

Pesticides Linked To ADHD

A new nationwide study of U.S. children links pesticide exposure to increased risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics and conducted by scientists at Harvard University and the University of Montreal, measured pesticide levels in the urine of 1,139 children in the United States. The researchers found that exposure to organophosphate pesticides “at levels common among U.S. children may contribute to ADHD prevalence,” the study authors reported. Organophosphate pesticides are used in agricultural and residential settings. Certain conventionally grown fruits and vegetables have tested positive for pesticide residue, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group.

The researchers couldn’t prove that pesticides cause ADHD.

“Previous studies have shown that exposure to some organophosphate compounds cause hyperactivity and cognitive deficits in animals,” said lead author Maryse F. Bouchard of the University of Montreal Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center in a release. “Our study found that exposure to organophosphates in developing children might have effects on neural systems and could contribute to ADHD behaviors, such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.”

The study is the first to look at risks among children with average levels of pesticide exposure.

According to the study, approximately 40 organophosphate pesticides are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in the United States. The EPA considers food, drinking water, and residential pesticide use the key sources of exposure. The National Academy of Sciences considers diet to be the major source of exposure to pesticides for infants and children.

The EWG recently released its updated Dirty Dozen—a list of 12 fruits and vegetables highest in pesticide residue. This is where going organic really pays off.Celery, peaches, strawberries, apples and blueberries ranked as the top five for pesticide residue.

PCBs and Pesticides Contributing to Diabetes?

Tags: ADHD, Environmental Working Group, EPA, pesticides

Omega 3 Dietary Reference Intake Standards Requested

The Fats Of Life Revealed

The Fats Of Life Revealed

File this under ‘good ideas that work’.

Andrew Shao, Ph.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a cosigner of the petition, added: “In the past decade or so, research on omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA in particular, has evolved to suggest we may be facing a serious public health problem. Most Americans appear to be falling short in their consumption of EPA and DHA, which studies show are important for cardiovascular health and brain development. Taking a simple EPA and DHA-containing product could help fill the nutrition gaps, but until DRIs are established both policy makers and consumers have no way of knowing what the target intakes should be and by how much they’re falling short.”

Read more at the Natural Product Insider.

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