Nutrition and Brain Development

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


All nutrients are essential for brain development, but pre-clinical and clinical studies have revealed sensitive periods of brain development during which key nutrients are critical. An understanding of these nutrient-specific sensitive periods and the accompanying brain regions or processes that are developing can guide effective nutrition interventions as well as the choice of meaningful circuit-specific neurobehavioral tests to best determine outcome. For several nutrients including protein, iron, iodine, and choline, pre-clinical and clinical studies align to identify the same sensitive periods, while for other nutrients, such as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin D, pre-clinical models demonstrate benefit which is not consistently shown in clinical studies. This discordance of pre-clinical and clinical results is potentially due to key differences in the timing, dose, and/or duration of the nutritional intervention as well as the pre-existing nutritional status of the target population. In general, however, the optimal window of success for nutritional intervention to best support brain development is in late fetal and early postnatal life. Lack of essential nutrients during these times can lead to long-lasting dysfunction and significant loss of developmental potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameCurrent Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences
ISSN (Print)1866-3370
ISSN (Electronic)1866-3389

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Brain development
  • Early childhood nutrition
  • Micronutrients
  • Nutrition
  • Iron/metabolism
  • Nutritional Status
  • Brain/metabolism

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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