As mums and dads, you try to give the best to your little ones to make sure that they are happy and healthy.
You also see that they are hitting the important milestones, and do your best to keep them stimulated during playtime. According to health and medical experts, your child’s brain grows rapidly during the first three years of life. In the first 2 years of life for example, the brain has already achieved 80% of its adult weight.
Besides brain stimulation activities, it is also important to supply nutrients that support brain development through the diet. You have probably heard about AA and DHA. Now, another nutrient that you might want to consider is lutein. Emerging research has shown that lutein may also play a role in brain development.
What is lutein?
Lutein is a carotenoid (a group of natural pigments found in plants and vegetables) and has powerful antioxidant properties. It is known to concentrate in the retina of our eyes.
Recently, a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition showed that lutein is the predominant carotenoid in the infant brain. It was found to concentrate in key areas associated with visual processing, memory, hearing and language development.
How is lutein linked to brain development?
The retina of the eye is an extension of the brain, and lutein protects the retina by absorbing damaging blue light. Acting as an antioxidant, lutein may also protect DHA, a key building block of the brain that is prone to damage caused by free radicals.
The concentration of lutein in the infant brain would suggest a need for lutein during brain development. In fact, recent studies on adults show a lutein-rich diet may improve visual processing, learning, memory, problem solving and verbal fluency.
Lutein-rich food to give to your kids
As our bodies cannot produce lutein naturally, it is important that your kids consume foods which are good sources of lutein. Here are some examples:
- Egg Yolk
Research has found that lutein in eggs are well absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Green leafy vegetables
Some familiar greens which are rich in lutein are like kai lan, kangkung, spinach and sweet potato leaves.
- Lutein-fortified formula milk
Recognizing the potential role of lutein, some milk formulas now also contain lutein in addition to other nutrients known to support brain and eye development.
This article first appeared in the Asian parent, http://sg.theasianparent.com/lutein-for-brain-development-in-kids, on 13 April 2015
- Egg Yolk