Even though COVID-19 is less of a concern this year, kids still need certain nutrients and vitamins to help boost their immune system to help protect against all the other pathogens they’ll face, either in the classroom or at home.
Immunity is always a concern for parents as cold and flu season looms shortly around the corner but the good news is that there are lots of ways you can give your children that extra immunity boost they will need for the coming months!
It’s best to try and focus on encouraging your little ones to eat most of the nutrients they need through food, while we know this can be easier said than done, the below might inspire some new foods in their diet that you wouldn’t usually give them at meal times. Continued exposure to a variety of foods is a key way to broaden the range of foods your picky eater consumes! We have also included our recommendations to fulfil these requirements through supplements if you feel your little one may be lacking in some of the nutrients.
These are some of the key nutrients kids need to support their immune system according to Registered Nutritionist Jennie Haire:
Zinc plays a key role in the functioning of optimal immune function (for both children and adults). Protein rich foods like chicken, turkey, prawns and red meat are all excellent sources. Beans like kidney beans and blackbeans are great plant sources of the mineral.
Vitamin D got a huge amount of attention during the pandemic (and rightly so!) for its vitally important role in bolstering the immune system. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin (sometimes also referred to as a hormone - which further reinforces its importance in the body) as it is made in our skin from sunlight exposure.
In Ireland and the UK, the government recommends that everyone supplements with this fat-soluble vitamin from late September until March as we do not get sufficient levels of sunlight (or sunlight that is strong enough) during these darker months to make enough vitamin D for our requirements.
We recommend this convenient, orange flavoured vitamin D spray from Somega to bridge the gap!
Most people are aware of the benefits of vitamin C in boosting immunity and warding off those nasty winter colds! Fruits like oranges, kiwis, strawberries and blueberry and dark green veg like broccoli are all packed with vitamin C and most kids generally enjoy them (maybe not the broccoli so much!).
If you find getting colourful fruit and veg into your kids tough (you’re not alone), this liposomal vitamin C liquid is an excellent addition to your child's daily routine - it also tastes delicious so most little ones jump in the morning time to take their spoonful!
Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and ground flaxseeds all provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is the plant form of omega-3 fatty acids. They make a brilliant snack as they’re also packed with healthy fats, fibre and vitamins E, B6, B12 and A.
80% of our immunity is located in the gut microbiome so it’s vital that we have rich sources of pre and probiotics foods in the diet.
Prebiotics are fibre rich foods such as fruit, vegetables and nuts that act as a food source for the friendly bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are strains of good bacteria that help create a better balance of that healthy versus unhealthy bacteria in the digestive tract - which in turn strengthens our immune system. Again, getting as much variety into your child’s diet as possible in terms of fresh, whole foods is one of the best things you can do for their microbiome health.
Probiotic-rich foods include bio-live natural yogurt, Sauerkraut, miso and sourdough bread - and granted .. it can be a real challenge to get young children eating these kinds of foods but this is where a good probiotic supplement can be very helpful.
This one from NaturesPlus is our favourite to support little one’s immune system!
Our Top 4 Immune-Boosting Picks for Kids this September
- Animal Parade Multi Vitamin: This multi will give your little ones a boost while also covering their vitamin D requirement coming into the Autumn/Winter time. It comes in a gummy or a liquid form - so you can pick whichever you think they are more likely to take!
2. NaturesPlus Kids Probiotic: Back to School is a perfect time to start them on a probiotic (ideally for a 12 week period) as it will really support their immune system. This one comes in a little berry flavour tablet that most of them actually love taking!