Combination of lutein, natural vitamin E and DHA power up children’s brain
Researchers have shown that half of a person’s intelligence potential is developed by age four, and that nutrition can have a lasting effect on intellectual capacity, personality, and social behaviour.
Proper nutrition is the foundation for living the best and fullest life possible, and developing good nutritional habits during childhood has the potential to improve a child’s ability to learn, grow and thrive.
There is considerable scientific evidence showing that infants exposed to good nutrition, and adequate psychosocial stimulation had measurably better brain function at twelve years of age than those raised in a less stimulating environment.
It is common knowledge that several nutrients like DHA, choline, and taurine are vital for the rapid growth of a child's brain. But new research by Abbott and the Center for Nutrition Learning and Memory recently discovered that lutein and natural vitamin E are also important for brain development. Lutein, natural vitamin E and DHA have been found in areas of the brain important for learning and the combination of lutein, natural vitamin E and DHA produced more connections in brain cells than with DHA alone.
At the symposium “Science-based nutrition supports children’s brain development, better health and learning outcomes” on May 20 hosted by the Vietnam Pediatric Association in cooperation with the global healthcare company Abbott, Dr. Matthew J. Kuchan, senior principal research scientist, and Global Cognition Platform lead at Abbott and the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory shared research findings with local experts.
DHA is an important building block that supports brain development but DHA needs to be protected by lutein and natural vitamin E. Our research shows, these three vital nutrients – when combined – stimulate 81 per cent more brain connections compared with DHA alone in research models, and provide more nutrients for faster brain connections,” he said.
Additionally, research has shown that lutein and natural vitamin E help to protect cell membranes and omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA from oxidative damage. DHA is particularly vulnerable to damage by free radicals (oxidation) and natural vitamin E can protect DHA from oxidation, together with lutein.
Studies also have found that the infant brain preferentially accumulates natural vitamin E over synthetic vitamin E. Natural vitamin E is found in parts of the brain that are linked to memory, vision and language development.
“Not all forms of vitamin E are equal,” Dr. Kuchan said. “Since, natural and synthetic vitamin E are structurally different. Natural vitamin E, or RRR-trocopherol, is more biologically active than the synthetic forms of vitamin E, which are typically found in fortified foods and supplements.”
Dr Kuchan’s recent research is extensively on the differences between natural and synthetic vitamin E on brain development conducted in 2016 with supports from Abbott, the global healthcare company.
Nutrition in the early years of life can have a profound effect on children’s health status as well as their ability to learn. At the symposium, experts have discussed how to reduce factors leading to learning interruptions of children.
Prof. PhD. Dr. Pham Nhat An, vice president and general secretary, the Vietnam Pediatric Association shared: “There are several factors affecting cognitive development in infants and children - including infections and digestive issues. It is because children’s health status is associated with the opportunity to experience and explore the environment, that impacts their brain development. Evidences show that reducing factors that interfere children’s learning will help to ensure foundation for cognitive development.”
As experts’ sharing, solutions to ensure cognitive development include breastfeeding as breast milk is ultimately the best source of nutrition for a new baby, improving environmental factors together with using healthy alternative nutrition supplements for children if needed.
Especially, experts also shared that a formula which is palm oil free is proven to improve absorption of brain nutrients. Some research of Similac, a palm oil free infant formula of Abbott, demonstrated that the formula brings optimal absorption of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids like DHA (97.44 per cent) and AA (98.09 per cent).
The palm oil free formula with nucleotides also can help to address digestion issues such as infantile colic symptom which results in reducing learning interruptions.
“We understand that proper nutrition is the foundation for living the best life possible, for children greater opportunity to maximize their future well-being, live better and achieve more across the life span,” Douglas Kuo, general manager of Abbott Vietnam said. “We wish that the latest science and best practices shared at the symposium today can add values to local healthcare professionals’ daily consultancy and ensure the child cognitive development through good nutrition.”
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By Hoang Anh