It is November, which means cold and flu season has officially begun which means parents need to start thinking about practical ways to help boost their children’s immune systems so they can stay healthy and happy during the winter. There are plenty of natural ways to help your children strengthen their immune response that are both easy to obtain and to use. Here are a few natural methods for boosting your child’s immunity.
Elderberry is one of the most effective and commonly used natural immune boosters. Elderberry helps fight viruses and is full of antioxidants that are key to fighting off infection.
Elderberry is usually infused into a syrup that is sweetened making it easy for kids to take because it tastes very good. Elderberry is best used at the onset of an illness, but a small daily dose of Elderberry is an easy way to boost your kids’ immune system.
Vitamin D is something I typically recommend during cold and flu season for immune system health. It is helpful for modulating the immune system. Low vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk and severity of illness. Vitamin D exposure mostly comes from the sun, but I recommend using a supplement even in sunny Arizona because many people don’t metabolize the vitamin D from sunlight due to use of sunscreen and covering of the skin.
Zinc is a mineral that is important in the development of particular immune cells. It helps fight infection and improve immune system function. There is research that shows it can decrease the duration of cold and flu symptoms if it is taken within the first 24 hours of infection.
I recommend that children usually supplement zinc during cold and flu season, unless they eat large amounts of foods containing zinc, such as shellfish, meat, egg yolk, and some legumes.
Don’t forget the Vitamin C
Vitamin C is important for increasing the production of white blood cells, which help our bodies fight infections.
Vitamin C is naturally found in citrus, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and dark leafy greens. Children can also safely take a supplement of vitamin C daily throughout cold and flu season.
This year’s cold and flu season could be a stressful one, but families can be proactive in fighting against infection by implementing a diet full of immune-boosting and vitamin rich food and supplements.
Dr. Kiera Smialek is a pediatric naturopathic doctor with Natural Kid Doc. Dr. Smialek is a board member of the Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is considered one of the first specialists in her field.