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How to keep your children healthy during exams

In August each year thousands of GCSE and A-Level students find out whether they’ve achieved the grades they need to secure their places at college or university. And you, like every parent, will want your child to reach their full potential.

Although it’s down to them to do the learning and revision, it’s possible to pass on encouragement that ensures they’re inspired and happy, sleeping well and not too stressed to revise and do coursework.

Learning is central, but there are other things – namely nutrition, health and wellbeing – to think about while they’re studying that’ll help them along the way to achieving their academic goals.

Here, we outline what they should eat to help boost their concentration and ensure they’re in tip-top condition and make the family proud when results day comes around.

Boost their brain power with omega-3 fatty acids

It’s vital that they do all they can to boost their memory, concentration and alertness so they can perform to the best of their ability during exam time. Nutrition has a huge role to play in mental agility so be wary and ensure that they don’t skip meals or rely on coffee or sugary snacks to keep them awake.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our brain health. They are highly concentrated in our brains, and nutritionists believe that they’re important for our brain memory and function.

To make sure they are providing their body with enough, especially during exam time, you should try and encourage them to eat two portions of fish a week (one should be oily fish) or eat other omega-3 rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, walnuts, rapeseed oil, soya and tofu.

Alternatively, you may wish to ensure they take omega 3 supplements.

If they complain that they are feeling low on energy, it could be that their diet is lacking in foods that contain vitamin B1 (thiamine) such as fresh and dried fruit, whole grain bread, peas, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals. To increase their intake (and your energy levels), you could consider encouraging them to take a vitamin B supplement, as long as it doesn’t contain more than 100mg of thiamine per dose.

You may want to consider getting a vitabiotic supplement, such as Neurozan, for them, which is ideal for increasing brain and cognitive function, especially important during revision period when they need to be on top form.

Ensure they take regular breaks, nap and go for strolls in the fresh air

Cramming for exams too late is never a good idea as it increases stress levels. Taking regular breaks is crucial so why not use the opportunity to rustle up well-balanced meals that are bursting with the vitamins and minerals that their body requires?

Teenagers are renowned for being at the lazier end of the scale. However, you should encourage them to take brisk walks which can help blow away the cobwebs and gives them time to reflect on what they’ve just revised.

It’s very important that they keep themselves hydrated and get a good night’s sleep every night. You should encourage them to get eight hours of undisturbed sleep, but if they’re finding drifting off difficult, they may need to adjust their bedtime routine.

Revising all night and then jumping into bed as soon as they’ve put down your books or logged off their computer isn’t ideal. Instead, encourage them to wind down, perhaps even having a relaxing bath to prepare both their mind and body for sleep.

Remember, however much you want them to do well, don’t push them too hard as they won’t perform to their potential if they’re feeling exhausted. It won’t help them in the exam room and could impact on their immune system too, meaning that they’re more likely to fall ill.

Getting good grades can feel like the priority at the moment but their health and wellbeing are much more important, and the family will be thankful for it later on.

Is your child already at university? Our health and wellbeing advice will guide them through exam time.

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Children's Nutrition