Bells will soon be ringing, and parents may experience a sense of déjà vu for the first several weeks of school. That’s because the...

Bells will soon be ringing, and parents may experience a sense of déjà vu for the first several weeks of school. That’s because the early part of each new school year is commonly spent reversing the effect of “summer brain drain” – when kids lose skills they mastered the previous year.

According to a recent survey by DSM Nutritional Products and Pop Warner, 78 percent of parents are concerned about students’ difficulties retaining what they learned in school throughout the summer.

A majority of surveyed parents understand the role of nutrition in physical and academic performance, but do not make the connection to nutrition’s role in preventing brain drain. While many parents encourage their children to take vitamins and minerals to supplement nutrition, nearly half admit they are not clear about which nutrients support children’s brain health.

What is more, maintaining a well-rounded and healthy diet and taking vitamins and other essential nutrients that support brain health ranked significantly lower than other strategies parents use to prevent brain drain, such as sports and academic activities.

Nutrition plays an important role in brain health year-round, says Elizabeth Somer, a nationally acclaimed registered dietitian, nutritionist and author. To help keep your students’ minds sharp as they head back to school, consider these tips from Somer:

Eat fatty fish twice a week for dinner or supplement omega-3s. Omega-3s are highly concentrated in the brain and important to brain health, yet according to research published in the British

Medical Journal, the average American diet contains less omega-3s from seafood than most other developed countries. Children and adults should get the recommended two servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, per week.

Offer a variety of healthy food options in the house. Giving children choices teaches them to take care of their bodies and empowers them to make better food decisions in the future. Stock the kitchen with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as baby carrots, berries and bananas for snacks, and broccoli, green peas and mashed sweet potatoes for dinner. The nutrients in these foods are important for the brain. Along with calcium, low-fat milk supplies vitamin D, which is a nutrient essential for brain development.

Consider taking a multivitamin. No one eats perfectly. It is important to talk with you physician or registered dietitian about whether you or your children could benefit from a multivitamin.

According to research published in The Journal of Nutrition, only 10 percent of Americans get the nutrients they need form their food, and supplementation can help fill the gap. Family Features

Food Nutrition at School

Chesterfield County Public Schools provides nutritious breakfasts and lunches, offering milk, fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains and meeting strict limits on saturated fat and portion size. The nutritional integrity of school meals has always been a priority, and the school system is meeting the challenges set forth in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. School lunches must meet tough federal standards that require.

  • Age-appropriate calorie limits (Some portions will be reduced)
  • Larger servings of vegetables and fruits (Students are required to take at least one fruit or vegetable)
  • Wider variety of vegetables, including dark green vegetables, red/orange vegetables and legumes (Cooked and fresh versions will be offered daily)
  • Fat-free or one percent milk (Flavored milk must be fat free. Whole milk and two percent milk will not be available)
  • More whole grains (At least half of all the grains in school meals must be whole grains)
  • Minimum and maximum levels for all grain products and protein products
  • Less sodium

For breakfast and lunch menus visit: http://mychesterfieldschools.com/food-and-nutrition-services/lunch-menus/