Nutritional support of neurodevelopment and cognitive function in infants and young children—an update and novel insights

Kathrin Cohen Kadosh, Leilani Muhardi, Panam Parikh, Melissa Basso, Hamid Jan Jan Mohamed, Titis Prawitasari, Folake Samuel, Guansheng Ma, Jan M.W. Geurts

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Proper nutrition is crucial for normal brain and neurocognitive development. Failure to optimize neurodevelopment early in life can have profound long-term implications for both mental health and quality of life. Although the first 1000 days of life represent the most critical period of neurodevelopment, the central and peripheral nervous systems continue to develop and change throughout life. All this time, development and functioning depend on many factors, including adequate nutrition. In this review, we outline the role of nutrients in cognitive, emotional, and neural development in infants and young children with special attention to the emerging roles of polar lipids and high quality (available) protein. Furthermore, we discuss the dynamic nature of the gut-brain axis and the importance of microbial diversity in relation to a variety of outcomes, including brain maturation/function and behavior are discussed. Finally, the promising therapeutic potential of psychobiotics to modify gut microbial ecology in order to improve mental well-being is presented. Here, we show that the individual contribution of nutrients, their interaction with other micro-and macronutrients and the way in which they are organized in the food matrix are of crucial importance for normal neurocognitive development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number199
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Brain
  • Childhood
  • Gut-brain axis
  • Kynurenine
  • Minerals
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Polar lipids
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Protein quality
  • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
  • Vitamins


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