Children aren’t exactly known for their remarkable attention span. Didn’t you ask them to clean their room five times today?
They do have a tendency to get excited or distracted, especially when there’s something they’re particularly eager to do or something they really want. While part of the problem may stem from having natural childlike priorities, it may also stem from an inability to concentrate.
If your child has a hard time focusing on things they are not actively attempting to avoid, vitamin deficiency may be playing a role in difficulties with mental focus and cognitive function. There's a reason you were probably encouraged to take fish oil dietary supplements and other omega-3 fatty acid during pregnancy -- nutrition and a healthy diet play a bigger role in cognition than most people realize.
If your child’s healthcare provider believes that a behavioral issue isn’t the culprit, you may want to take another look at your child’s diet and supplement the essential nutrients for brain health they are likely not getting enough of through diet alone.
The Negative Impact of Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are extremely serious. Although severe cases are rare in countries like the United States where people have easy access to a wide variety of healthy foods and can eat a well-rounded diet, there are still many places in the world where disability and death can occur as a result of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Vitamin A deficiency can leave sufferers blind. Iodine deficiency can halt the body’s growing process, permanently disabling children. Vitamin C deficiency (or scurvy) can cause open sores and loss of teeth. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have long-lasting consequences that lead to cognitive decline or impairment.
While these more severe consequences aren’t frequently seen in North America, the symptoms can be creeping and subtle in less severe forms of deficiency. Difficulties with memory loss and poor concentration, trouble sleeping, lethargy, brittle bones, and muscle aches are among the most common ways that nutritional deficiencies present themselves in our kids.
Kids Need Vitamins and Minerals More Than Most People Think
Children have a tendency to be picky eaters. They’re too full for their baked chicken and salad, but they’re absolutely starving for a popsicle.
It can be difficult to sell children on the benefits of nutrition when they’re still too young to really grasp its impact on their brain power.
Thankfully, if you can convince your child to eat healthy food most of the time and then supplement their diet with a well-rounded children’s multivitamin, you can help keep deficiencies at bay.
Children’s Daily Requirements for Vitamins and Minerals
Children have different recommended daily allowances for vitamins than adults. Just like with calorie intake, vitamin and mineral intake should be proportional to the size of the body. Children won’t need 2,500 calories a day like a six foot tall athletic male will. Their body doesn’t require that much energy even if it feels like they have infinite energy to burn. Their vitamin and mineral allowances work the same way.
You might often see that a multivitamin label states that the product contains more than 200% of the RDA for each vitamin. This is normal and necessary. The body has to digest and process the vitamin, and in doing so, it will lose a lot of its potency. In the end, the amount becomes closer to the amount that your child will actually need. The overage is just padding to account for that loss.
Early research has concluded that children with ADHD often have lower levels of zinc than children who do not, potentially establishing a link between zinc deficiency and attention deficit.
Zinc is a necessary mineral that helps the body metabolize melatonin, its own natural relaxing chemical. If the body cannot relax, it cannot properly focus.
Vitamin C is a crucial antioxidant for helping the body produce norepinephrine. Norepinephrine regulates the body’s responses, including attention and reaction speed. Without adequate amounts of norepinephrine, the mind will not be as attentive or perceptive as it should be. The body should do an adequate job of producing the right amount of norepinephrine, as long as it’s supplied with the vitamin C it requires.
B vitamins naturally increase the body’s level of energy. The metabolic boost we get from B vitamins puts a little more pep in our step. Athletes often use B vitamins before endurance marathons, and weight lifters use them in workout supplements. Vitamin B9 (i.e. folate) is also key for healthy brain cell development.
B vitamins are especially important for children who cannot concentrate because they often feel tired.
Though do note: nothing is a replacement for proper sleep. Your children need to be getting a full night’s rest for the sake of their health. There may be times where it’s a little more difficult to achieve that rest, but the effort is important nonetheless.
Additionally, children going through puberty are growing very quickly. Even if they’re sleeping and eating more than the minimum amounts they require, it’s not uncommon for them to frequently feel tired while their bodies grow and change. Good sleep habits in conjunction with a little extra vitamin B12 can help your tween combat the natural lethargy of puberty without sacrificing school performance.
Magnesium helps to relay information between the brain and the body. Concentration requires the mind and body to cooperate in perfect unison. Magnesium fills up something called NMDA receptors inside of the brain. NMDA receptors function best when they’re full of magnesium. When they aren’t, they may be guided by improper signals to the point of being overworked. This heavily impairs concentration and can lead to poor motor coordination.
Keep an open dialogue with your child. Make sure they aren’t having any social issues or learning problems that may be impacting their school experience, and that they’re actually going to sleep at bed time. Rule out any emotional issues that may be distracting them from their school work.
Then, create a plan to keep your child happy and healthy with better mental, emotional, and physical health practices.
A great children’s multivitamin can help to improve your child’s concentration naturally with the nutrient supplementation they need for healthy brain function, regular energy levels, and overall cognitive health and wellness.
While you should always speak with your child’s medical professional about what is in their best interest if you have a concern, it’s never a bad idea to provide natural support to their growing bodies and minds by making sure they have the essentials they need to develop and grow!