Article at a glance
Proper nutrition is imperative for optimal cognitive development, especially for growing brains. The brain grows and develops at its greatest rate at the beginning of life, reaching approximately 90% of adult volume by age 6. The human brain is made of up of nearly 60% fat and Omega-3 fatty acids, which are obtained through diet, are the predominant fatty acids found in the brain and are particularly important for brain structure and development during fetal growth and through adolescence.
Cognitive and behavioral research in children indicates supplementation with Omega-3 (particularly DHA) shows improvements in verbal learning and memory function, along with significant reductions in behavior problems. Evidence also highlights that those who have low levels of Omega-3s are at greater risk for eye disease and depression. Furthermore, Omega-3 supplementation has been shown to improve ADHD symptoms in children, and may protect their brains from cognitive trauma during their active years as natural explorers or young athletes playing in contact sports.
While a well-rounded diet can provide a majority of vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth, most people in America have been found to be deficient in Omega-3s. Studies have observed that 97.5% of American adults, 99% of NCAA student athletes, and majority of children worldwide are deficient in these brain supporting fatty acids. Omega-3s, particularly DHA and EPA, are found predominantly in fatty marine fish and marine algae, and the tendency for children to be picky eaters leaves them more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies which could put them at risk for underdevelopment.
As part of its commitment to enhancing youth player health and safety, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. has announced an innovative partnership with Brain Armor to spread awareness and education on the steps that can be taken to protect young minds. Brain Armor is a nutrition company dedicated to improving cognitive health and performance on every field of play.
“This partnership is another exciting step in advancing our health and safety initiatives”, said Jon Butler, Executive Director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. “We are constantly working to identify and implement the most current, science-driven methods to improve overall player safety. Brain Armor is a great addition to that approach.”
Olson, former Pop Warner Little Scholar and professional American football player who experienced head injuries during his career as an offensive lineman said, “I wish I knew there was such a simple way to better protect my brain while I was playing football, everyone should know this information and know there are steps you can take to better protect yourself.”
Pop Warner Little Scholars, along with other sports teams around the nation have heeded the scientific evidence around brain health and have begun to educate their players, young and old, on targeted nutrition requirements to protect their health.
Stacy Cappadona MS, RD, CSCS received her BS in Exercise Science and MS in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition from Florida State University. She has worked with athletes of all ages, active duty military personnel, and is now serving people globally through virtual coaching programs as the Founder of Stacy Rae Wellness.