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The remarkable role of nutrition in learning and behaviour

Jennifer Dani (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Courtney Burrill (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Barbara Demmig‐Adams (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 1 August 2005

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this review is to examine the effect of nutrition on mental functions of children and adolescents.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach taken is to evaluate published research on key dietary factors, including recent, rigorously designed supplementation studies.

Findings

The result of this analysis is that nutrition has potent effects on brain function. It is concluded that protein, iron, iodine, and the consumption of breakfast all impact on a child’s learning capability and behaviour. Moreover, recent research has identified additional, potent roles of micronutrients, such as essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins, in the prevention of learning and behavioural disorders. Among the latter, this review focuses particularly on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Research limitations/implications

While several controlled supplementation trials with supplementation are now available, the limitation of the present analysis is that more large‐scale trials are needed before final conclusions can be reached.

Practical implications

The practical implication of this review for health‐care providers, nutritionists, teachers, and parents at this time is that enough promising evidence has be accumulated to warrant a recommendation to include adequate levels of minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients in children’s diets to improve learning and behaviour.

Originality/value

This review is unique in its comprehensive nature and provides a synopsis of the power of diet in influencing learning and behavior for professionals and parents.

Keywords

Citation

Dani, J., Burrill, C. and Demmig‐Adams, B. (2005), "The remarkable role of nutrition in learning and behaviour", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 258-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/00346650510605658

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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