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How to Keep Kids Clear Headed?

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Q: What Might Help Keep Kids Clear Headed in School?

A. Severe iodine deficiency causes learning and developmental problems in children who do not get enough of this mineral. In one study, 184 children between 10 and 13 years with mild iodine deficiency received either 150 mcg of iodine per day or a placebo. Children were tested before and after supplementation on measures of brain (cognitive) function, including tests of picture concepts, matrix reasoning, letter-number sequencing, and symbol search.

After 28 weeks, the children who received iodine supplements had significantly greater improvements in the picture concepts and matrix-reasoning tests compared with the children receiving placebo (no iodine).

This research is encouraging, because the children studied were past the period of rapid brain development that occurs early in life. This suggests that even if iodine supplements are provided relatively late in the childhood development period, it still can benefit children with mild deficiency. It is always better to prevent deficiency or correct it in infancy and early childhood, but for many children “better late than never” is true for addressing iodine deficiency.

In the US, iodized salt is the best source of iodine. But many people are eating less salt for other health reasons. In these cases the best bet for getting enough iodine may be a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Check the label to make sure yours contains iodine.

Other sources of iodine include seafood, sea vegetables, and seaweed. A 3-ounce portion of ocean fish, such as haddock, can provide about 325 mcg of iodine. This is more than twice the recommended intake of 150 mcg for all people 14 years and older. Flaked seaweed seasoning products can provide iodine as well.

If you have concerns about how much iodine you and your children are getting, talk to your doctor about ways to get more of this vital mineral into your diet.

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