As a follow up to my last blog I’m going to address children’s cognitive issues. In this article I’ll be naming products because the approach to cognitive improvement is not dissimilar to the adult approach with some modifications.

Children’s nervous systems are more delicate and impressionable than adults. They can also be more responsive but proceeding incrementally is often the best strategy to influence their nervous system and tissues.

First step would be to consider an allergy or sensitivity to a food or substance.

An excellent starting point is following The Feingold diet which excludes anything with dyes, colorings and artificial or processed additives and flavorings found in the majority of commercial and even “natural” products, and any naturally or synthetic occurring salicylates from aspirin, peppermint and menthol especially synthetic forms, toothpastes and many medications, and even apples . The emphasis would be on whole, nutrient dense foods, preferably organic so the chance of toxic metals and neuro-toxic chemicals present is greatly reduced or eliminated. Also barring any sensitivity thereof, tyrosine and phenylalanine rich foods should be emphasized as these provide the brain with the amino acids that promote alertness. Also, highly advisable is avoiding bad fats like hydrogenated or trans fats which seem to imbalance if not interfere with the utilization of good fats in the body that nourish and protect the brain and nerve cells throughout the body.

Even if a child’s cognitive functions are not manifestly in need of improvement as in ADHD or any other behavioral condition, as with adults and perhaps even more so with the potential for over stimulation and depletion via wi-fi/microwaves/emfs and the otherwise “smartification” of our lives and technologies it is especially wise to be proactive in supporting children’s and teen’s cognitive health.

There are supplements that are age and weight appropriate that can help youth’s nervous systems to be in the right, responsive, and balanced (neither over or underactive, although this is a highly individual determination) direction.

To allay distracting agitation or even hyperactive tendencies there are calming formulas like herbs for Kids chamomile calm which contains wood betony to nourish the pituitary and pineal glands (which orchestrate so many neuro chemicals)-with additional calming herbs: hops that can encourage melatonin balance and catnip. Be aware that children and adults that are sensitive to ragweed are often sensitive to chamomile. For those who are chamomile sensitive there is Herb Pharm’s children’s lemon balm calm, a safe soothing herb that can be taken as needed. Another herbal combination that many have found extremely useful is the Captain Concentrate tincture also by Herb Pharm, containing the best of all possible herbal ingredients such as lemon balm and passionflower for calming, bacopa for overall neural integrity and communication and oat seed to support the adrenals and mitigate stress.

Some supplements that can be used independently or in combination with others are DHA supplements by Nordic Naturals or Child Life. They supply DHA, the most abundant essential fatty acid or (ones that your body can’t synthesize thus essential) in the brain that from birth (from mother’s breast mil) throughout life (from dietary sources such as fish and nuts) is used in all neurological processes in the brain. Others in the Nordic cadre are more advanced, as older children may need more amplified nutritional resources as their cognitive demands become more sophisticated. Their Complete Omega Junior for ages 6-12 mixes fish derived EFA’s with borage oil, from a plant used in Ancient Greece to prepare students for exams.

Their Omega Focus Junior is an ingenious (ok, pun intended) combination of EPA Omega 3, DHA DMAE - a substance found in anchovies that has been found to help mental acuity, and phosphatidylserine, a highly bioavailable form of choline which supplies the substrate for acetylcholine the memory and synaptic conductive neurochemical, and phosphorous which covers and protects the brain.

Another unique and useful formula is Garden of Life’s Attention and focus for Kids; containing vitamin D for mood and overall health including hormone efficiency, wild blueberry, pine bark and C-rich Amal berries for cerebrovascular integrity and function, along with a probiotic blend that helps the gut synthesize the proper chemicals for optimizing mood and cognition.

Add to this some sensible amounts of exercise especially those that oxygenate the brain and body, and ones that balance the hemispheres of the brain like brain gym or cross lateral activities, good sleep, puzzles of almost any kind and definitely time for daydreaming (one of Einstein’s favorite pastimes) and playtime and your helping your children facilitate one of their strongest assets, their brain and it’s thoughts.