Immune Vitamins for Kids – What You Need to Know
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A collective cheer echoed across the US and across the world simultaneous with an internal sigh as back to school started this year. Whether virtual or in person, our kids are inching closer to normalcy and the weight of this pandemic, though only partially, has started to lift off of the shoulders of our nation. Being back to school, though, has parents thinking about the best immune vitamins for kids. Because, now that they are back, our goal is to keep them there.
“Every Kindergartener dreams of dressing up in superhero masks for school. This year they get their wish, although they have to wear it slightly lower than expected…”
Priming for Success With Immune Vitamins For Kids
Amidst the still looming threat of the COVID19 pandemic, a strong immune system for our kids is more important than ever. Priming their bodies with healthy foods and appropriate vitamin intake should be top of mind as we phase into our new normal. From a supplement standpoint, a strong foundational approach will not only support normal growth and development, but also provide the nutrients, both vitamins and minerals, to prime the immune system for success.
The excitement around back-to-school activity arrives with a paradigm shift and a fresh plate of stress. Parents are required to physically stay out of the buildings and for moms (and dads) with young kids, that’s a tough one. Adjustments to new classrooms and normal exposures to new friends and new teachers are once again here, but with the added component of brand new setups that safeguard our kids from COVID19. All of this exposure, both new and old, can be stress inducing (yes, even positive things can bring about stress) and demanding on the immune system. That’s why parents across this entire nation are asking us the same question: what are the best immune vitamins for kids?
Many healthcare practitioners frequently recommend a holistic approach to nutrient intake, but now more than ever, kids will benefit from a solid foundational approach that includes a range of vitamins to optimize their health.
There are three considerations when thinking through a strategic healthy intake plan. The first includes many you may already know- a range of vitamins and minerals that support the immune system. The next two are not often discussed when it comes to immune health but are equally important to the cause. Omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics lend significant support to the more commonly known immune vitamins for kids, and ensure optimization of those vitamins. Both of these play supportive roles within the immune system and its functional processes.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The human body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential and have to be consumed from an outside source through food or supplementation. Omega-3, also known as fish oil, are recommended as immune vitamins for kids and for adults by physicians on a regular basis. They support immune health in a variety of ways.
A study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry demonstrated that omega-3 intake supported B-cells, which are part of the adaptive immune system and are involved in making antibodies.
Structural support for cells that attack bacteria and viruses
They support immune function by strengthening the structural lining of immune cells- macrophages that rapidly attack bacteria and viruses. Omega-3 also improves receptor functionality of those immune cells as they patrol the body.
Block gene expression of inflammatory disease development
Omega-3 binds to receptors involved in gene expression of disease development and seem to have a protective effect. Research has shown omega-3 to be protective against autoimmune disorders, heart disease, stroke and some cancers and support normal nerve function and brain health.
A flourishing microbiome is the gateway to optimal health and immunity. Gut health is supported by probiotic intake and is a necessary component of a foundational vitamin regimen for immune health. When gut health is improved, absorption of the necessary nutrients that support immune health can be optimized. Research has shown that probiotic intake plays a role in digestion, absorption and distribution of nutrients for growth and repair. A recent clinical trial demonstrated that probiotic intake supported upper respiratory tract function, a pathway that affects many of those hit by Covid19. The immune health of kids will improve greatly with appropriate gut health management.
There are several other key nutrients, both vitamins and minerals, that are necessary in driving the immune process and provide foundational support for immune response. Immune vitamins for kids are not different in immune process than for adults. They require a slightly different intake approach because of the additive effect of growth and development in adolescence versus the aging effect on immunity for adults.
Immune Vitamins for Kids
Individual nutrients are often discussed in response to immune health. We constantly hear, “Vitamin C helps us fight off a cold,” so we all run to the pharmacy to get mega doses of Vitamin C or [insert vitamin here] that we think will help. And somehow, large doses, to both manufacturers and consumers, seem like it would be better. If vitamin C works, then let’s get as much as possible. We do this for ourselves, and we do this for our kids. It may be counterintuitive, but that might actually work against us. In fact, high doses can overwhelm our system and can actually allow for rapid proliferation of viruses or increased cell division in cancer development. A more comprehensive and safer approach includes a spectrum of nutrients in an appropriate dosage that, together, support each phase of the immune response that help us maintain good health or quickly recover from sickness. In short, take only what you need. More is not necessarily better.
A comprehensive spectrum of nutrients includes vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, folic acid, iron, selenium, amino acid glutamine and zinc. All are equally important to a complete immune response. This combination of immune vitamins acts like keys that open subsequent locks within the immune response process. Zinc opens the gate and the others come into play in phases that, together, lead to an appropriate immune response that prevents or reduces symptoms of sickness.
Many people try to start taking vitamins after their symptoms begin. However, by then, the virus has already taken over our system and we are playing defense to a bigger opponent. In order to rid yourself of a pathogen and reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms, immune specific vitamins need to already be in place for the protective cascading effect to happen as rapidly as necessary. If not, then your body will be overwhelmed by the invader and you will start to feel the symptoms of the virus or bacteria. That’s why priming your body with appropriate levels of nutrient intake before you are sick is so important.
This foundational approach of consuming a combination of the three nutritional elements- omega-3, probiotics and immune vitamins, through both food and supplementation, provides the best strategy for success in immune health.
For kids, we know that they need a variety of nutrients on deck to support everyday growth and development, and that includes immune health. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables can provide most of the daily 30 (the 30 essential nutrients needed every day to survive) to support their changing needs. However, for many children who are not inclined to eat certain foods or go through a “food phase”, a multivitamin can be a helpful approach to achieving success with the daily 30.
Despite having a strong nutritional foundation, your kids may still get sick without other lifestyle factors in place. Simply put, immune vitamins for kids alone are not enough. Additional activities that support immune health include sleep, exercise and community connectedness.
Sleep is one of the most critical elements to a healthy immune system. The American Pediatrics Association recommends about 9-12 hours of sleep each night for school-aged children up to 12 years old and 8-10 hours for children up to 18. When it comes to your kids, simply getting the bed in bit earlier can make a major impact on their health. (But trust me, we’re moms too, so anything “simply” is not always so simple. We get it.”
Exercise is very important for the physical health of the body, so it should not come as a surprise that it supports a healthy immune system as well. Exercise allows for optimal absorption of immune vitamins for kids and reduces stress triggers which supports overall emotional health. All of which lead to healthy immune function.
Dr. Valter Longo’s research has made it abundantly clear that community connectedness is a critical component of our overall health and longevity. One of the main reasons for this is that a positive social structure reduces our stress response. Stress related hormones can have a major impact on our microbiome, immune response and overall health. The human body was not created to withstand long periods of stress. When we exist in a high stress environments chronically, our immune response is weakened. Interestingly, communities that live the healthiest, longest lives have built in community structures that support a low stress environment. It’s worth considering ways to implement healthy connections while you are already thinking about immune vitamins for kids as a more comprehensive approach.
Choosing Immune Vitamins for Kids Vitamin and Me
Every single child is unique, meaning that every single person’s body responds differently to internal or external factors. Since everyone is so different, it can be difficult to decide which vitamins to take and in what dosage. Talk to your child’s doctor about their specific needs before choosing the right vitamins for them. Vitamin and Me offers a range of different, high-quality immune vitamins for kids.
If you are concerned about your own health as a parent or adult, Vitamin and Me has created a simple assessment to match you with vitamins tailored to you, complete with dosages. Don’t wait until it’s too late, take our personalized vitamin quiz and start boosting your immune system today!
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