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The Link Between Nutrition and School Performance

December 15, 2023Back to Learning Centre

When it comes to improving school performance, tips often revolve around study habits, time management or testing strategies. There is no denying that these all play a role in learning and should be a part of your research when figuring out how to help boost your child’s grades. But, it’s also important to not discount some of the less obvious factors that could be contributing to performance as well.

For example, ample rest, a healthy outlook and self-care habits have also been shown to help your child get into the right mindset for learning. In particular, numerous studies have shown that there is a link between adequate nutrition and effective learning.

Overall health has effects on attendance

Schools are full of germs! Many homes cross paths in school hallways making it easy for colds and flus to travel around. In general, eating well and having access to healthy food options keep essential vitamins and minerals at healthy levels. As a result, maintaining positive nutrition is a key part of ensuring your kids have a strong immune system, making them less susceptible to missing school due to illnesses. A significant factor in good school performance, regular school attendance is critical as it can be challenging for kids to keep up with and build on new concepts if they’re not consistently in school.

When a child’s energy levels are high, and their mind is clear, students also tend to have a better experience in school. It’s easier to engage in peer activities and be an active participant in classes when foods support the reduction of brain fog, sugar rushes and crashes.

Micronutrients impact concentration and brain function

A healthy body helps in maintaining a healthy mind. Some studies have found links between consuming certain nutrients and improving cognitive function. For example, iron and magnesium play a role in learning and memory, while omega 3s can help with your attention span. Having vitamin deficiencies in these areas can affect a child’s behaviour and brain function.

Aside from simply boosting your brain and energy levels, observational studies have shown that nutrition can impact grades. Some schools with breakfast or snack programs have seen an overall increase in academic performance. And it makes sense! Skipping breakfast would leave most people spending the morning thinking about what they might be having for lunch instead of focusing on the task at hand – especially if that task is math.

Eating better for your health

As a busy parent it’s not always easy to craft perfectly balanced breakfasts, lunches and dinners. After a full day of work or school, extracurricular activities and family time, popping into your local fast-food spot may be all that there is time for. But with some planning it can be less time-consuming to incorporate healthier options in your family’s diet.

Lunches are an excellent place to start— because they can be made with yesterday’s dinner. Leftovers from the night before, sandwiches, fruit and water are all reasonably easy to prepare and will supply your child with the nutrients needed for the rest of the day. Making one balanced meal that can last a day or two saves time down the line. And as an added bonus, you’ll be able to save some money this way!

Breakfasts can be a little trickier, especially for families with busy early mornings. A protein-packed smoothie, homemade muffins or even an apple can help give your kids a healthy energy boost instead of relying on sugary cereals or syrup drenched waffles that will cause crashes later. Don’t worry! There’s always room for waffles on Saturday mornings.

If you have reason to be more concerned about your child’s wellbeing, it may be worth exploring the symptoms of nutrient deficiencies. Start with a checkup at your family doctor and see if they have any concerns or recommendations.

Taking care of yourself by ensuring you’re eating balanced meals and getting proper rest will improve your child’s mindset, health and concentration, giving them the extra bandwidth needed to learn and retain challenging concepts.


Written by Embark

Embark is Canada’s education savings and planning company. The organization aims to help families and students along their post-secondary journeys, giving them innovative tools and advice to take hold of their bright futures and succeed.