Immune Support for Kids
ByJoanne Aponte, ND •January 3, 2023
The underlying health of the child matters. A child with a robust immune system and a healthy gut microbiome is able to deal with the challenges brought on by many of the viruses and germs they are exposed to. If your child is getting sick frequently, this could certainly be normal. It’s normal for kids get sick a lot! However, if they are getting too sick, not recovering easily or if viral infections are leading to secondary infections like sinus infections, pneumonia, ear infections and bronchitis, this could be a sign that their underlying vitality and immune function is weakened.
When it comes to immune support for kids, the goal is prevention and to a build a healthy immune system BEFORE they get sick. This way when they do get sick, their immune system will be ready to respond and their illness will be mild and they will easily recover with little intervention.
Here are my top recommendations for immune support in kids:
Sleep and Rest
- This is most important. When the body is resting and sleeping, the immune system can fight off germs. Start resting at the first signs of illness, don’t wait until so sick that your child can’t get out of bed. Have your child take the night off from homework or skip the after school activity if they are seeming under the weather. If the body has the chance to fight off the virus early, more serious illness is less likely to happen. When my girls get sick, they are often in bed sleeping for entire day, then next day, they are often all better!
- The diet should be low in sugar, high in fiber, primarily whole foods and plentiful in vegetables and fruits. Fiber includes chia seeds, vegetables and fruits with skins, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains (like oats, brown rice, wild rice)
- Three servings of fruit per day – especially highly pigmented fruits like berries, red grapes and pomegranate and also high Vitamin C fruits such as kiwi and citrus.
- When ill, especially if there is congestion and mucous in the sinuses or lungs avoid all dairy until recovered. Dairy is inflammatory and tends to be mucous forming and can worsen inflammation in the sinuses and lungs.
Include foods high in immune supportive nutrients:
- Zinc – seafood (oysters are highest), beef and pumpkin seeds.
- Vitamin A– liver, eggs, butter, squash, sweet potato, carrots, kale, spinach.
- Vitamin C– citrus, broccoli, bell peppers, and kiwis
Core Supplement Support for Prevention – kids are vital and do not need much by means of supplements but a few supplements can be very helpful. Consider the following:
- Vitamin D – doses for children range 400-800 iu per day based on age.
- Elderberry – elderberry is sweet and tart, kids usually love it. It’s great for hiding the taste of other supplements.
- Probiotics and/or Prebiotics– nearly 80% of the immune system resides in the gut. So building a healthy gut immune system and microbiome is key. At the clinic, my favorite probiotic for kids is HMF Powder. This has lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium along with the prebiotic FOS. Prebiotics such as FOS, GOS, arabinogalactan and inulin stimulate growth of beneficial gut bacteria and are helpful as well.
- Consider a multivitamin if your child’s diet is not very diverse.
Additional immune support:
- Zinc – If the diet is low in zinc or if signs of weakened immunity, consider adding a Zinc supplement. Zinc rich food sources include pumpkin seeds, seafood and beef.
- Vitamin C – is helpful and can be given by a supplement, but it’s best to focus on Vitamin C from foods.
- Melatonin – if your child has trouble falling asleep or if viruses tend to settle in the lungs leading to croup, bronchitis or Pneumonia, consider a melatonin supplement. 1-2mg of Melatonin near bedtime is a safe dose for children.
- Warming Socks – Wearing cold, wet socks helps improve blood and nutrient circulation by stimulating a pump-like effect within the circulatory and lymphatic systems, increasing vitality and speeding recovery from an acute illness with fever. Wear the cold wet socks to bed 3 nights in a row at the first signs and symptoms of acute illness. Click here for directions.
- Let the fevers run – if your child feels okay and can sleep it off, do not give fever reducing medicine. Only give this if your child is feeling very terrible and is in significant pain and discomfort. Learn more about the benefits of fever here.
If you child continues to get sick and is not recovering or is developing secondary infections like sinus infections, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. Come in and talk with me so we can develop a more individualized immune support plan and also to investigate what might be interfering with their immune system from working optimally.
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.