Brain health is an important issue. Awareness has amplified over the last decade leading to substantial research and big changes to youth and adult programs to better address player health and safety.
All growing brains need proper nutrition to optimize cognitive growth and development. The brain grows and develops at its greatest rate at the beginning of life, reaching approximately 90% of adult volume by age 6. The human brain is made up of nearly 60% fat. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are obtained through diet, are particularly important for brain structure and maturity during both fetal development and throughout adolescence because they are the predominant fatty acids in the brain.
Cognitive and behavioral research in children indicates supplementation with Omega-3 (particularly DHA) shows improvements in verbal learning and memory function, along with significant reductions in behavior problems. Evidence also highlights that those who have low levels of Omega-3s are at greater risk for eye disease and depression. Furthermore Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may improve ADHD symptoms in children, and may result in enhancement of brain remodeling after head injury. *
A well-rounded diet can provide a majority of the vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth, yet, most people in America have been found to be deficient in Omega-3s. Studies have observed that 97.5% of American adults, 99% of NCAA student athletes, and majority of children worldwide are deficient in these brain supporting fatty acids. Omega-3s, particularly DHA and EPA, are found predominantly in fatty marine fish. This, along with a tendency for children to be picky eaters, leaves them more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies, which puts them at risk for underdevelopment and possible complications later in life. *
As part of its commitment to enhancing player health and safety, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., has announced an innovative partnership with Brain Armor, a nutrition company dedicated to improving cognitive health and performance on every field of play.
“This partnership is another exciting step in advancing our health and safety initiatives,” said Jon Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Little Scholars. “We are constantly working to identify and implement the most current, science-driven methods to improving overall player safety. Brain Armor is a great addition to that approach.”
Jeff Olson, former Pop Warner Little Scholar and professional American football player who experienced head injuries during his career as an offensive lineman said, “I wish I knew there was such a simple way to better protect my brain while I was playing football, everyone should know this information and know there are steps you can take to better protect yourself”.
Pop Warner Little Scholars, along with other collegiate and professional sports teams around the nation have heeded the scientific evidence around brain health and have begun to educate their players on targeted nutrition requirements to protect their health.
Brain Armor Omega-3+ Youth Vegan Liquid Concentrate, the official brain health supplement of Pop Warner Little Scholars, provides clinically proven age appropriate concentrations of plant-based DHA and EPA to support brain health in a naturally flavored liquid supplement. You’re never too young to learn about cognitive health.*
Stacy Cappadona MS, RD, CSCS received her BS in Exercise Science and MS in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition from Florida State University. She has worked with athletes of all ages, active duty military personnel, and is now serving the communities in Southern Oregon at an all inclusive Wellness Club.