The Essential Learning Nutrients

Scroll down to learn more about each nutrient and where you can get it!

Article written byLaTricia Morris, CIWC  LaTricia Morris is an Integrative Wellness Counselor, Writer, Author, Illustrator & the Founder of See Kids Thrive.

In Eating for A’s, Schauss, et al, discuss what they call the 12 Essential Learning Nutrients.  In the text, they explain that by acquiring all of these nutrients through dietary diversification, children should consequently receive adequate amounts of all nutrients.  RDA’s are according to this text.  Please, note, daily recommendations may change over time or be recommended in different quantities by different health professionals.  Further, there are other nutrients, such as DHA that have been proven essential to brain function.  These featured nutrients, as acquired from a healthy diet, are said to greatly increase children’s capactiy to learn, laugh and live life to the fullest.

*Please note that RDA’s may vary depending upon resources.  All effort has been made to provide accurate recommendations.  Still, we recommend you  seek the personal counsel of a reliable health professional prior to supplementation or implementing any dietary advice you receive from ANY internet source.

Vitamin A

RDA: 4,000IU

Benefits:

Aids in manufacturing of protein and DNA and promotes tissue formation of the skin, eyes, nails, lungs, ears, and mouth

Deficiency Signs:

Depression and apathy; lowered friendly intestinal flora, which prohibits the conversion of carotene to vitamin A; retarded brain growth in infants

Sources:

Amaranth Leaves, Acerola, Arugula, Apricots, Basil, Asparagus, Cantaloupe, Chili Powder, Beet Greens, Cherries, Laver (Seaweed), Beets, Grapefruit, Paprika, Broccoli, Loquats, Red Raspberry Leaf Teas, Cabbage, Mango, Soymilk, Carrots, Mangos, Spirulina, Collards, Orange Juice, Stevia, Cress, Papaya, Barley Grass, Dandelion Greens, Passion-Fruit, Endive, Peach, Grape Leaves, Persimmon (Japanese), Kale, Plantain, Oatmeal, Lambsquarters, Tomato, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onions, Pak Choi/Bok Choy, Peas, Pumpkin, Puslane, Red Bell Pepper, Spinach, Squash, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Taro Leaves, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Zucchini

Vitamin B1 {Thiamin}

RDA: 3mg

Benefits:

Aids metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates; helps brain process energy; aids transmission of nervous system signals; known as “morale” vitamin due to effects on mental attitude; supports learning & memory capacity

Deficiency Signs:

Fatigue; impaired memory, mental confusion, reduced alertness, impaired reflex actions, general apathy, and lack of interest, disorderly behavior, irritability, impulsiveness, poor sleep, and fatigue. linked to anorexia/loss of appetite, indigestion, constipation, weakening of heart muscles  which can result in cardiac failure causing swelling in the lower legs, then thighs,  difficulty breathing and can even eventually lead to death as the heart gets enlarged and other cardiac impairments occur

Sources:

Leafy Greens, Avocado, Mushrooms, Squash, Carrot, Peppers, Orange/Tangerine/Pineapple Juice, Papaya, Plums, Raisins, Black Beans, Cowpeas, Lentils, Lima Beans, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, Peas, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Beans, Soybeans, Peanuts, Potatoes, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oats, Barley, Alfalfa, Triticale, Semolina, Wheat Germ, Whole Grains (Germ & Bran), Flaxseed, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts/Filberts, Hickory Nuts, Macademia Nuts, Pistachios, Pecans, Safflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Nutritional Yeast, Kelp, Spirulina

Vitamin B2 {Riboflavin}

RDA: 1.7mg

Benefits:

Needed to process amino acids and fats, activate vitamin B6 and folic acid, and help convert carbohydrates into the fuel the body runs

Deficiency Signs:

Bloodshot eyes, abnormal sensitivity to light, itching and burning of the eyes, inflammation in the mouth, a sore and burning tongue, and cracks on the lips and in the corners of the mouth, bloodshot eyes, abnormal sensitivity to light, itching and burning of the eyes, inflammation in the mouth, a sore and burning tongue, and cracks on the lips and in the corners of the mouth.  May also lead to malfunctioning of the adrenal glands or contribute to anemia or cataract.

Sources:

Almonds/Almond Butter, Beet Greens, Lambsquarters, Portobello Mushrooms, Shitake Mushrooms, Crimini Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Durian, Prune Juice, Passion-Fruit Juice, Spinach, Buckwheat, Oatmeal, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Tempeh, Whole Grains, Ancho Chilies, Barley Grass, Chili powder, Coriander, Nutritional Yeast, Paprika, Parsley, Parsley, Peppermint, Spearmint, Spirulina, Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite)

Vitamin B3 {Niacin}

RDA: 50mg

Benefits:

Assists the brain in producing chemicals and acids essential in the manufacturing of protein; necessary for healthy blood circulation and impedes cholesterol accumulation; also known as the “happy vitamin” for its influence on personality.

Deficiency Signs:

General weakness, muscular weakness, and lack of appetite. Skin infections and digestive problems may also be associated with niacin deficiency.

Sources:

Asparagus, Barley, Beef, Broccoli, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Calf Liver, Carrots, Chicken (esp. breast), Crimini Mushrooms, Gingko Nuts, Halibut, Lamb, Leafy Greens, Lentils, Mangos, Milk, Millet, Oysters, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peanut Butter, Peanuts, Portobello, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Rice Bran, Salmon, Shitake Mushrooms, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Tuna, Turkey, Venison, Wheat (soft & hard red winter), Wheat Bran, Wheat Durum, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice

Vitamin B6 {Pyrodoxine}

RDA: 5mg

Benefits:

Also helps the brain produce chemicals and acids essential in the manufacturing of protein; also influences hair color, growth and texture.

Deficiency Signs:

Dizziness, skin diseases, tremors, convulsions, fainting and motion sickness.

Sources:

Acorns, Alfalfa Capsicum, Almonds, Avocados, Banana, Barley Malt Flour, Beechnuts, Beef Liver, Beets, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Brown Rice, Brussel Sprouts, Carrot Juice, Chick Peas, Chicken, Cod, Durian, Garbanzo Beans, Garlic, Halibut, Kelp, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Pineapple Juice, Pinto Beans, Plantain, Pork, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Red Clover, Rice Bran, Rice Flour, Safflower Seeds, Soybeans, Squash, Sunflower Seed Butter, Sunflower Seeds, Sweet Potatoes, Tomato Juice, Tuna, Turkey, Venison, Walnuts, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice

Folate

RDA: 400mcg

*Folate and folic acid are different forms of the same vitamin. Folate is the natural form of the vitamin found in foods, while folic acid is the synthetic form used in dietary supplements and in fortified foods.

Benefits:

Helps the body produce RNA & DNA, both important in the formation of nucleic acid and the storage of recent-memory events.

Deficiency Signs:

Apathy, impaired memory, irritability, withdrawal, slowing of all intellectual processes, anemia, fatigue, general weakness and parasites

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Agar, Alfalfa, Amaranth Leaves, Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado, Beets, Black Beans, Boysenberries, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Calf Liver, Chicken Liver, Chickpeas, Collards, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Durian, Eggs, Endive, Fava Beans, French Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Great Northern Beans, Green Beans, Kelp, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Lima Beans, Lima Beans, Moth Beans, Mung Beans, Mustard Greens, Navy Beans, Navy Beans, Okra, Orange, Orange Juice, Peanuts, Peas, Pigeon Peas, Pineapple Juice, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, Red Clover, Safflower Seeds, Soybeans, Spinach, Sprouted Grains, Sunflower Seed Butter, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Turkey Liver, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Beans

Vitamin C

RDA: 250 mg

Benefits:

Aids in the utilization of protein; improves absorption of certain forms of iron needed by the brain; often referred to as the “master vitamin” for its necessity to overall bodily processes.

Deficiency Signs:

Fatigue, depression, hypersensitivity, colds; general run-down condition, bruising, bleeding gums, and shortness of breath

Sources:

Acerola, Acerola Juice, Amaranth Leaves, Apple, Apple Juice, Apricot, Artichoke, Asparagus, Banana, Beet Greens, Black Currants, Blackberries, Blackberry Juice, Blueberries, Breadfruit, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Carrot Juice, Casaba Melon, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chestnuts, Collards, Corn, Crabapples, Cranberries, Custard Apple, Dandelion Greens, Durian, Elderberries, Feijoa, Garden Cress, Gingko Nuts, Gooseberries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Guava, Honeydew Melon, Jujube, Kale, Kiwi, Kohlrabi, Kumquats, Lambsquarters, Lemon, Lentils, Lime, Litchis, Loganberries, Longans, Mulberries, Mustard Greens, Nectarine, Okra, Orange Juice, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Papaya Nectar, Parsnips, Passion-Fruit, Pea, Peach, Peach Nectar, Pear, Persimmon, Pineapple, Plantain, Plum, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pummel, Pumpkin, Purslane, Radishes, Raspberries, Red Currants, Rutabagas, Saurkraut, Soybeans, Spinach, Squash, Starfruit, Strawberries, Sundried Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Swiss Chard, Tangerine, Taro Leaves, Taro Shoots, Thyme, Tomatillos, Tomato Juice, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Wasabi, Watercress, Watermelon, White Currants, Yam, Yam Bean

Iron

RDA: 10 mg

Benefits:

Essential for building healthy muscles and maintaining healthy blood; aids in processing of nutrients required for neurological processing; helps process neurotransmitters and DNA

Deficiency Signs:

Anemia, listlessness, worry, dull hair, fatigue, inflamed mouth or tongue

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Amaranth, Asparagus, Barley Malt Flour, Barley, Pearled, Bulgur, Cashews, Cereals (Not The Sugar Laden Stuff), Chickpeas, Clams, Coconut, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Dandelion Root, Great Northern Beans, Hemp Hearts, Hyacinth Beans, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Miso, Moth Beans, Navy Beans, Oats, Organ Meats, Oysters, Palm Hearts, Passion-Fruit, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Rice Bran, Rye Flour, Sorghum, Soybeans, Spinach, Spirulina, Squash Seeds, Tahini, Thyme, Tofu, Wheat, Wheat Germ, White Beans, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Bean

Magnesium

RDA: 30-360mg, depending on age of child

Benefits:

Helps the brain attain energy from nutrients; key for the activation of enzyme reactions (required for over 200 enzymatic functions); essential to have balance between calcium and magnesium as the heart muscles contract with calcium and relax with magnesium; and aids in balancing the blood’s pH levels.

Deficiency Signs:

Irritability, nervousness, lethargy, depression, confusion

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Agar, Almond Butter, Almonds, Amaranth, Artichoke, Barley, Barley Malt Flour, Barley, Pearled, Beet Greens, Black Beans, Black Walnut, Blackberry Juice, Brazil Nuts, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Buckwheat Flour, Buckwheat Groats, Bulgur, Butternuts, Cashew Butter, Cashews, Chinook Salmon, Coconut Water, Corn, Cornmeal, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Flaxseed, French Beans, French Beans, Great Northern Beans, Halibut, Hazelnuts, Hyacinth Beans, Lima Beans, Lotus Seeds, Macaroni, Millet, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Oat Bran, Oats, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peanut Butter, Pigeon Peas, Pine Nuts, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, Purslane, Quinoa, Rice Bran, Rye, Rye Flour, Safflower Seeds, Scallops, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Soymilk (Calcium-Fortified), Spaghetti, Spinach, Squash, Squash Seeds, Sunflower Seed , Sunflower Seed Butter, Swiss Chard, Triticale, Triticale, Walnuts, Wasabi, Wheat, Wheat Bran, Wheat Durum, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Bean

Potassium

RDA: 50 mg

Benefits:

Required for normal levels of brain neurotransmitters; known as “the alkalizer,” potassium works with sodium; potassium flushes waste from cells and balances body fluids

Deficiency Signs:

Weakness, loss of appetite; nausea, irrational thinking, confusion

Sources:

2% Milk, Adzuki Beans, Amaranth Leaves, Apricot, Artichoke, Bamboo Shoots, Banana, Beet Greens, Blackbeans, Blackberry Juice, Breadfruit, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Brussel Sprouts, Cantaloupe, Carrot Juice, Cashews, Coconut Water, Cottage Cheese, Cranberry Beans, Dates, Durian, Grape Juice, Great Northern Beans, Kidney Beans, Lean Beef, Lentils, Lima Beans, Lotus Seeds, Navy Beans, Orange Juice, Oranges, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Passion-Fruit, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peach, Plantain, Pomegranate, Portobella, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Raisins, Salmon, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Spelt, Spinach, Spinach, Squash, Sundried Tomatoes, Sunflower Seeds, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Tangerine Juice, Tomato Juice, Turkey (Esp. Dark Meat), Wasabi, Water Chestnuts, Whole Grains, Yam, Yogurt

Zinc

RDA: 10 mg

Benefits:

Required in virtually every enzyme reaction in the brain; aids in the manufacture of RNA, DNA, and protein; helps provide energy from glucose and protein

Deficiency Signs:

White spots on fingernails, lack of energy, visual problems, slow healing, blood sugar problems, poor appetite, anorexia, fatigue, confusion

Sources:

Adzuki Beans, Amaranth, Baked Beans, Beef, Calf Liver, Cashew Butter, Cashews, Hominy, Hyacinth Beans, Lamb, Millet, Miso, Napa Cabbage, Oats, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Rice Bran, Rye, Rye Flour, Safflower Seeds, Scallops, Sesame Seeds, Squash Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Triticale, Turkey, Venison, Watermelon Seeds, Wheat, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Yogurt

Chromium

RDA: 100 mg

Benefits:

Essential for glucose metabolism (the human brain is almost totally dependent on glucose for its fuel); permits insulin to cross cell membranes; increases HDL, suppresses hunger symptoms; and helps prevent diabetes

Deficiency Signs:

Poor concentration, impaired short-term memory, mood fluctuation, general feelings of tiredness

Sources:

Apples, Asparagus, Bananas, Beef, Black Pepper, Brewer’s Yeast, Broccoli, Cereals, Cheese, Grape Juice, Green Beans, Mushrooms, Nuts, Organ Meats, Potatoes, Prunes, Thyme, Turkey, Whole Grains

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