Does Protein in Pre-Teens Impact Brain Development?

It is known that nutrition is directly proportional to growth and development. No matter what the age is, nutrition is necessary for our body.  Best if proper nutrients are supplied to the body during the early age of adolescence. Six essential nutrients are essential for every body: Protein, water, minerals, vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates.


Among all these nutrients, Protein is one of the must-have nutrients that is needed in the child's overall growth and development.

But what is Protein?

When it comes to adolescents' health, parents have to keep their nutritional supply a priority. Protein, which is a significant element for brain development, must be provided through the day because unlike fats, they cannot be stored. Proteins are known as fuel sources of the body and are polymer chains that are made of essential amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. They help in cell development and are required for the function, structure, and regulation of the body’s organs and tissues.

How much protein is needed by the body?


National Academies of Science suggests that the children of 1-3 years should get at least 13 grams a day, 4-8-year-olds should get at least 19 grams of protein a day and 9-13-year-olds should get at least 34 grams a day, says Yashna Garg, CMO E-Commerce, ZeoNutra.

Sources of Protein:

Many food items are rich in protein and can be part of the child's meals.
Meat, Fish, beans, nuts, lentils, eggs, tofu, seeds, chicken, nuts, milk products, and fortified soy beverages are all rich in protein. Having these foods at most meals will be sufficient for protein needs. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits have small amounts of protein.


What role does protein play in the brain development of a pre-teen/ adolescent?

The social, emotional, and cognitive parts of the brain continue to develop across the lifespan. But when we talk about the pre-teen's overall growth, the brain comes first. The trajectory of the brain's growth and development, however, is heterogeneous across time. The brain's structure and capacity are shaped early in life before 3 years of age and around 6 years their brain size is about 90-95% of the adult size.


Though much of the brain is developed during early age as children become teenagers and are about to hit teen age, their brains grow and change differently. This brain remodeling is intense during this period and continues until the child is in their mid-20s. Cognitive changes in the brain of the teen affect behavior and thinking.

These changes can be modified and controlled by being with the child and supporting them while they also go through puberty changes. Three things that parents should ensure:
1. Good sleep (around 8-9 hours)
A positive, affable environment
A nutritious protein-ful diet

What does protein do for the brain?

It gives shape and structure to the brain
Neurotransmitters
Cognitive functions

It helps shape and structures the brain

After water, protein is the second-largest matter in the brain.
Just like it helps in body tissue building, it helps build the connective tissues around cells which make our grey matter!
Proteins also produce new nerve cells, which helps in brain growth.

Protein makes neurotransmitters

When a child is born, she has all the brain cells that are needed by the body but these cells aren't connected. With time, when the child gets exposed to the things in his surroundings like hearing her name, touching things, developing a taste, recognizing things, many connections are made. Protein makes up part of these connections which are called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that allow communication of brain cells and Amino acids that are called the building blocks of protein, which helps in the production of neurotransmitters. There are different types of neurotransmitters made from different proteins like the protein tyrosine makes the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and tryptophan makes neurotransmitter serotonin.

These neurotransmitters control actions and behavior. Serotonin helps control sleep, appetite, and mood. While Norepinephrine helps in controlling blood pressure and heartbeat rate. Proteins are also responsible for the neurotransmitters to work in order.

It helps in the cognitive functions

Not only does protein help in pre-teens' brain development, but it also helps the child's brain to think clearly, learn and concentrate. During the time of early adolescence and pre-teenage, the child goes through a lot of behaviour, most of it because of puberty. If the brain is supplied with the necessary amount of protein, it helps the child think clearly, prioritize and control mood swings.

Effect on the brain from deficiency of Protein

Around the World, doctors suggest that protein should be prominent on our plates. For adolescents and teens, it becomes more essential. The deficiency of protein is impacts the brain and the body together. Key symptoms include easy fatigue, lack of concentration, repeated hunger, late reaction, memory loss etc. Protein indirectly adversely impacts their diets, skin, hair, nails which sometimes only get discovered when the child reaches late teens.

Prevention is better than cure, hence we recommend the right protein intake in every meal and snack time! To know more follow @be.gladful on Instagram!