Brain food: it’s food for thought

12 - 18 years
Banana with glasses

Good nutrition is vital for everyone’s brain, especially for teens.

This is the time when their brains, like their bodies, are maturing fast, so it’s important to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need to keep their grey matter in top shape.


The most important thing they can do is drink water, so they are well hydrated. Water helps the brain to function properly, and good hydration can improve your teen’s memory, focus, clarity and creativity.

Take care of their bodies too

Growing teenage bodies need extra calcium and iron, so encourage your teenager to include plenty of both in their diet. Getting enough calcium is important for your teen’s bone density and can help build strong bones for life. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, beans, bean products (like tofu and soy milk), nuts and seeds, sardines, seaweed, wholegrain cereals and leafy greens.

Your teen needs more iron for their growing muscles and increasing blood volume. Getting enough iron is particularly important for teenage girls. Good sources of iron include red meat, legumes such as beans and lentils, wholegrain and fortified cereals.

Wholegrain cereals

Wholegrain cereals, breads and pastas are ideal for keeping your teen mentally alert during the day. They have low GI, so they release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, providing a steady supply of energy.

Fruits, nuts and vegetables

Oranges, capsicums, guavas, dark green leafy vegetables, kiwifruit, broccoli and blackcurrants are rich in vitamin C, which has long been thought to increase mental agility.

Broccoli, asparagus, green herbs like basil, sage and thyme, and hot spices like chilli are great sources of vitamin K, which is another important brain nutrient believed to enhance cognitive function. Nuts, olives, seeds, brown rice and green leafy vegetables are a great source of vitamin E, another essential nutrient for developing brains.

Print iconPrint
Last modified
1 August 2019