Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Students' Diets Higher in Folate Linked to Better Grades

Save for a few nutrients that are very hard to get in our diets, most vitamins and minerals are readily available for us to absorb from a healthy, varied and balanced diet. B vitamins are a great example of nutrients that are difficult to be deficient in, provided we consume whole grains, fruit, dark leafy greens and the occasional glass of orange juice. But if you're a student, you might want to make sure to slip in an extra glass or two of OJ, another bowl of cereal or some extra greens each day if you want to do better in school.

According to new research from Sweden, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, students whose diets were high in folate achieved higher grades in school. Folate is a B vitamin that is necessary for normal DNA formation and healthy cell development, particularly red blood cells. Diets lacking in folate can put people at risk of having errors in DNA synthesis and cell formation, which can lead to cancer. Similarly, malformed red blood cells can result in a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia.

But before you run out and stock up on folate supplements, you should know that there is no real evidence to support the idea that supplemental levels of the nutrient is necessarily better. According to American researchers, most North American children are not deficient in folate, thus loading up their diets with the nutrient may not be beneficial. They suspect that the children in the study may have had lower levels of the nutrient to start with.

However, if you're not sure how much folate you or your family are getting, there is no harm in adding in some more dark leafy greens, whole grains or orange juice to your diet each day. All of those foods contain plenty of other nutrients that are essential for good health without the risk of side effects that supplements can pose.

So regardless of whether or not extra folate will help you or your kids do better in school, a healthy breakfast has been tied to better performance in school and work alike. Make it complete with folate-containing whole grain cereal and fruit like strawberries and oranges for a wonderful way to start the day.