While we may reach for those vitamin C tablets when our little one’s nose begins to run, healthy immune function starts much earlier than the first signs of illness. We have to catch invading viruses and bacteria and stop them in their tracks with good nutrition before, during and after we feel better, because the body needs nourishment to recover and rebuild.
But what exactly does good nutrition entail? What are the vital nutrients for healthy immune system function and where do they come from? In this blog we will be discussing exactly that, answering al your immunity-related questions.
Vitamin A deficiency has been found to increase the risk of infection. Found in high amounts in orange vegetables like carrot, as well as capsicum and kale, vitamin A is an essential immune nutrient. Vitamin A enhances immunity by increasing immune cell growth, especially to produce antibodies that fight against viruses and bacteria.
Vitamin B9 is the lesser known name of our pregnancy pal, folate. There’s so much focus on folate around pregnancy that it’s often forgotten once bub is born. This is a shame because folate is required for cell division, meaning that without enough in their diet, kids may not grow and flourish, and their immunity may struggle too. Folate can be found in leafy green vegetables, beans and liver – commonly on the yucky list for fussy eaters. Folate deficiency is such a public health issue that cereal grains must be fortified with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate. The issue here is, mandatory fortification does not extend to gluten free foods, which are booming amongst families with young ones.
The most well-known of all immune supporting nutrients, and for good reason! Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, making it great for stuffy, runny noses. It promotes the production of white blood cells, making them better at hunting down pathogens within the body. Infections cause a lot of oxidative stress as the body throws everything it can at an invader, and the immune system is not above damaging itself as collateral damage in the fight to survive. Vitamin C neutralises oxidants and supports recovery after infection. Most supplements use synthetic ascorbic acid, which can be harsh on little tummies, so natural sources of vitamin C such as oranges, acerola cherry and kiwi fruit can be a great option.
We think of vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, but did you know that mushrooms and oily fish like salmon are also good sources? The trouble is that again, kids don’t love these foods, and given the danger of spending too much time in the sun, kids are at risk of suboptimal vitamin D status. Vitamin D deficiency can impair healthy growth and development and, because it is involved in immune function, can reduce resistance to infection.
So now we know which nutrients are essential to strong immunity and the foods we can get them from. But the catch is not all kids love the foods that offer immune-protecting goodness, so what should we do?
While we cannot deny the importance of wholefood nutrition and would never suggest replacing this with a supplement, we definitely believe in the benefits of fortifying a varied diet with a quality supplement to fill in any nutritional gaps.
This is where our Immune Kidz comes in, a saving grace to parents with particularly fussy eaters.
Immune Kids is a little monster approved, concentrated superfood formula containing fundamental immune supporting natural nutrients along with herbs that encourage a strong and healthy immune response, while nurturing growth and development. And the best part? It tastes just like tropical cordial (minus the sugar overload!).
So back your little one this winter with the immune-supporting beverage they’ll want to drink, helping them spend less time bed bound and more time ruling the playground.