The Influence of Diet on the Child’s Cognitive Development

Posted on Sep 13, 2015 in Child

Different nutrients play various roles in the development of the brain. Some of these are iodine, iron, zinc, choline, vitamin B12, folate and vitamin D. When it comes to behavioral and cognitive development, people in industrialized countries tend to see diet as both the cause and an important solution of the problems. For example, in the United Kingdom, 32 percent of boys under the age of 10, 23 percent of girls under 7 and 16 percent of girls between 7 and 14 years of age take supplements that contain vitamins and minerals. Apparently, people in general are worried about dietary deficiencies.

It is too simple and superficial to say that diet has a critical role in brain development and, consequently, in intellectual functioning. The brain, like all the other body parts, is composed of protein, lipid, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals supplied through diet. As the brain grows more quickly than the rest of the body, it is obvious that a dietary deficiency in a critical developmental stage could result in long-term changes in brain structure, and thus in its functioning. Moreover, the brain is the most metabolically active organ, despite having limited energy reserves. Therefore, it depends on the diet to provide it with a continuous supply of glucose. Similarly, minute after minute, the functioning of the brain requires an adequate supply of micro nutrients that act as coenzymes or are part of the structure of the enzymes required for an optimal metabolic activity.

Therefore, diet is responsible with providing the necessary substances of which the brain is composed and which play the role of fuel that the brain uses to function. Either way, the mentioned analysis proves that diet has the power to influence intellectual functioning: the important question is how often, if ever, is diet so deficient that could result in the apparition of a problem, to what extent are interventions needed in developing countries and whether the concern shown by parents in industrialized countries is legitimate or if it implies a problem whose obvious psychological and medical solutions have been ignored.