Recent research in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that teens who have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids are more likely to have mental health disorders as adults.
The first sentence of the article’s abstract is a downer for any parent of a teen (if you pay attention to what they are eating both in and out of the house): “Energy-dense, yet nutritionally poor food is a high-risk factor for mental health disorders.”
Isn’t energy-dense, nutritionally poor food a pretty good description of the average teen’s fantasy diet?
Sure, this study is a mouse-model of human behavior, but the findings should alarm most parents into another wave of insisting that their teen consume at least something nutritious at every meal. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (these are in fish oil, but also in vegetables at lower levels, as well as in plants such as chia seeds, sea buckthorn, black currants and flax) were associated with higher levels of anxiety and poor thinking (cognitive functions).
The takeaway is this: Nutrition is key and not just in the first few years of life. Teenage nutrition is key for mental health in adulthood.
Talk to your teen about how critically important it is to nourish their brain.
Here’s the reference: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/37/29/6851