You were so careful during your pregnancy: you ate right, took a good prenatal, and went for all your ultrasounds. But now that your baby is born, could you be missing out on one of the most important nutrients for your baby’s brain and eye development?
If you’re not eating spinach, chard, collard greens, carrots and squash regularly, then there is a chance that your breast milk is missing adequate levels of the phytonutrient lutein. Since baby’ brains grow more than 300% during the first five years of life, getting enough of the right brain-friendly nutrients is crucial during this stage.
How Important is Lutein?
Lutein is key in infant development. At birth, lutein makes up the majority of carotenoids in a baby’s brain – in spite of the fact that nearly 43% of the carotenoids they eat are actually beta-carotene.[1. NHANES, 1988-94] Scientists speculate that the reason for this dominance could be that the process of birth takes a baby from a low-oxygen environment (the womb) into a high-oxygen environment (your arms). And when you have a significant increase in oxidation, you need a correspondingly large increase in anti-oxidants, in order to protect your health.
Specifically, lutein protects the nerve tissue of the brain and eye development, including the hippocampus, occipital lobe, and auditory lobe. What that means is it protects the nerve tissue that regulates brain function, understanding, speech, and hearing, as well as vision.[2. http://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_breaking-news/2011-07-28/research-confirms-presence-of-lutein-in-infant-brain/]
Lutein increases in mother’s bloodstream during pregnancy: importantly, it is the only carotenoid to do that. Our bodies can’t make lutein on their own, so if a mother is not getting enough from eating the foods mentioned above, there is a significant chance that her breast milk will not provide enough lutein for her developing baby. (The average North American gets 10-20% of the recommended daily allowance.)
[box]A child’s brain growth is highest between birth and age 3, with 90% of the capacity developing by age 5. [2. https://sites.ed.gov/fbnp/files/2013/07/Education-Matters-CFBNP-Childrens-Brain-Development.pdf]Ensuring adequate nutrients during this period supports healthy brain and eye development.[/box]
The Blue Light District
Children today are surrounded by screens: TVs, monitors, cell phones, tablets, video games – you name it. These electronic devices emit blue light. Blue light is the part of the light spectrum that is most harmful and most likely to cause damage.
Over-exposure to blue light can have an impact on our vision if too much of it is allowed to penetrate to the macula at the back of the eye. Under ideal circumstances, the eye protects itself from harmful blue light using macular pigment – a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin – as internal ‘sunglasses’. The more this macular pigment is required, the more lutein and zeaxanthin we need.
With the switch from incandescent lights to led lights in homes, even more blue light is surrounding us and our children. It is becoming increasingly difficult for us to get enough lutein to protect our eyes.
Baby’s retinas naturally have a high concentration of lutein in them to help protect them during their first year of life. And researchers are growing convinced that the reason for this is that it is the critical phytonutrient that affects development.
Learn more about Blue Light in this short video presentation:
Protecting Your Little One
So what can you do to help protect your baby’s eyes and ensure optimal brain development? Supplementing with lutein has been acknowledged to be safe in clinical trials, and it is increasingly being added to infant formulas around the world as scientists establish its safety and critical nature.
We partnered with FloraGLO® Lutein, the most clinically-researched supplier of lutein whose product has been evaluated and approved in both the USA and Europe. Combining their lutein in our Baby DHA Omega-3 formula supports infant brain and eye development and function.
We know how difficult it can be to get children to take a daily supplement, which is why we developed a delicious liquid formula, naturally sweetened with monkfruit, that your baby will love to take. Learn more about our Omega 3 with Lutein and Vitamin D here.