Do you know that many studies have shown that nutrient deficiency is THE most common cause of a lowered immune system?
Generally it’s best to take supplements with food (but always follow the particular manufacturer’s instructions). Often people opt for breakfast time and then it’s done for the day. In addition if you can, take supplements in liquid form for better absorption, for example, the fish oil is closest to its original form.
The products I recommend below are very popular (parents repeatedly buy them), as they are kid-friendly and easy to take. These supplements are available in all good health stores and some pharmacies. Different brands of the same supplement e.g., multivitamin vary widely in terms of quality, purity, potency, absorption etc so that's why I'm making specific recommendations below:
Of the 50 currently known essential nutrients, all interact and work together. Therefore a multivitamin is often the best place to start in terms of a supplement if your child needs a top up or is run down. It’s also one way to prevent nutrient deficiencies, especially for picky or fussy eaters. Take, for example, the mineral kids are most commonly deficient in is zinc. This can result in an impaired sense of taste and/ or smell, with the possible consequence of diminished appetite and/ picky eating. Taking a multivitamin can also have many benefits including boosting your child’s energy, mood and concentration levels.
I always recommend Animal Parade for clients whose children have a limited diet or for those who don’t eat fruit and vegetables, while we are working on improving their nutrition. I like this brand as it contains whole-foods like spinach, making it very well absorbed by most kids. The Animal Parade range comes in a variety of forms to suit different ages and different preferences:
- Baby Plex Liquid Drops in orange flavour (for babies & young children)
- GOLD Liquid in tropical fruit or berry flavour (4 years plus)
- GOLD Chewables (animal-shaped) in assorted flavours (2 years plus)
- Gummies (animal-shaped) in assorted fruit flavours (4 years plus)
2 Vitamin D
This is the second priority supplement I recommend to boost immunity. Researchers are discovering that Vitamin D may be important for many other reasons including mood and brain development We cannot rely solely on food to obtain sufficient vitamin D and many kids are low or deficient in Vitamin D. Ideally it best to get a blood test done before supplementing with Vitamin D, to establish if your child needs a higher dosage than generally recommended.
Vitamin D products are very similar but these are just two different forms:
- Viridikid Vitamin D Drops in orange flavour (6 months plus)
- BetterYou Dlux Junior Daily Vitamin D Oral Spray in peppermint flavour (3 years plus). Best to give underneath the tongue or on the inside of the cheek.
Do you know: 90% approx. of our entire immunity is based in and around the gut? Therefore boosting your child’s gut health makes sense to help their immunity. It’s also important to have ‘the right balance’ between the friendly bacteria and unfavourable bacteria to help limit the influence of unfavourable bacteria. Probiotics is one way of adding more friendly bacteria. One of the key ways this works is by 'crowding out' the unfavourable bacteria so there's less space for them to exist.
Taking probiotics may have other benefits including helping constipation, reducing sugar cravings, aiding the absorption of minerals and they may reduce allergic responses, especially in children. Finally, probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in preventing and treating the symptoms of gastroenteritis (stomach bugs).
I like many other health professionals including pharmacists, always recommend probiotics are a must if taking antibiotics and for some time after (as the antibiotics also kill good bacteria in our gut). For this reason it’s important that the probiotics are taken at a separate time to the antibiotics themselves.
I recommend starting gradually, for example, take ½ the recommended dose. Manufacturers vary as to when to take probiotics. What I recommend is to take the probiotics consistently over a period for at least one month; so find a time that suits and take daily. It’s also important not to heat probiotics like adding to hot porridge.
There are many great probiotic products available but these are different forms:
- BIO-KULT Infantis powder (includes Omega 3 & Vitamin D), for babies to young children
- Udo's Choice Children's blend (capsule, which can be opened), 5 - 15 years old
- Quest Kidz Biotix Chewable (blackcurrant flavour tablets), from 3 years old or 1 year: crushed.
There are other products in the above brands for different ages as well as other great brands including Optibac. I would recommend that you vary the products if you are giving probitiocs over a number of months, to ensure a greater variety of friendly bacteria.
4 Fish Oil: Omega 3s
Do you know that there are fats that are essential for our health like Vitamin C? This means, they cannot be made by our bodies and need to be taken through food or supplementation. Omega 3’s are such essential fats and are the most critical building blocks of the brain, as well as strengthening the immune system and lifting mood.
As many children don’t eat enough sources of Omega 3s like oily fish this is a great daily supplement; to ensure they’re getting the recommended levels. Without regular supplies of these nutrients, it can become difficult for children to concentrate, learn new information, and balance their moods properly.
Its important to note that fish oils have measurable effects on the body in relation to one’s blood so always seek medical help before you start giving fish oils, if you’re not sure.
While there are many excellent products out there, I like to recommend Eskimo-3 Kids as its one of the most popular essential fat supplements for children. It also contains vitamin D. Its an oil, in tutti-frutti flavour or orange flavour, with no fishy after-taste (ages 1-12 years).
If your children find it challenging to take the oil directly, check out my suggestions for 10 ways to add it into food or drink: http://growinghealthyeaters.ie/nutritional-advice-for-children/one-of-the-best-supplements-for-kids-eskimo-3-kids.html
If the oil isn't an option, Eskimo-3 Kids Chewable DHA+ are an alternative orange flavoured chewable (ages 3 - 12 years).
Finally, you’re not always able to stop your kids from catching what’s going around all the time, but your efforts can help to decrease the frequency of recurrent colds, flu’s & infections or their severity and/or duration.