Nutrients and growth factors play roles in brain development. The rapidly developing brain of children is more vulnerable to nutrient insufficiency yet also demonstrates its greatest degree of plasticity.

Presence of optimal nutrition is one of the important factors that influence early brain development. All nutrients are important for brain growth and function; however, certain nutrients have particularly significant effects during early brain development than others.

Here is the list of vital nutrients important for brain development and the food containing them.

Nutrient Food sources

Omega-3 fatty acids (for example, docosahexaenoic acid)

Fish (rawas), flax seeds (alsi), chia (sabja), kiwi fruit, walnuts (akhrot)




Cocoa, green tea, citrus fruits (lemon, orange, sweet lime), dark chocolate

Saturated fat

Butter, ghee, coconut oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, dairy products (cream, cheese), meat

B vitamins

B1: Cereals (esp. whole grain), brown rice, green vegetables, potatoes, liver, eggs

B2: Dairy products, leafy vegetables, legumes, liver, yeast, mushrooms

B3: Meat, fish, whole-grain cereal, legumes, mushrooms, nut

B5: Meat, whole grain cereals

B6: Meat, fish, legumes, nuts, bananas, potatoes

B7: Eggs, liver, leafy vegetables

B9: Leafy vegetables, legumes, citrus fruits

B12: Meat, fish and other animal products

Vitamin D

Fish liver, fatty fish (Rohu, Catla), mushrooms, fortified products, milk, soy milk

Vitamin E

Asparagus (Shatavari), nuts, peanuts, spinach, vegetable oils, wheat germ


Egg yolks, chicken

Calcium, zinc, selenium

Calcium: milk. Zinc: a small amount in beans, nuts, almonds, whole grains, and sunflower seeds.

Selenium: nuts, cereals, meat, fish, eggs


cocoa, black pepper


Fish, poultry, lentils, beans



  1. Georgieff, MK. Nutrition and the developing brain: Nutrient priorities and measurement. Am. J. Clin. Nutr.2007;85:614–20.
  2. Gómez-Pinilla F. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7):568–578.
  3. Ackman RG, McLeod C, Rakshit S, Misra KK. Lipids and fatty acids of five fresh water food fishes of India. J Food Lipids. 2002;9:127–45.
  4. Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8:68.