Part-6 by: Jonathan Vellinga, MD
Children are rarely concerned about germs and can be exposed to many pathogens while playing with other children. This can be good for a healthy child because it strengthens their immune system so they can more easily destroy those pathogens in the future. However, no one enjoys watching their child suffer through a cold or the flu. Luckily, there are some supplements that help prevent illness and reduce symptoms that are also safe and effective for children.
For those of you interested in learning how to provide an extra boost to a child’s immune system, whether to help them stay healthy, or alleviate symptoms once they become ill, here is our list of recommendations. Each supplement is backed by science that proves it is safe and effective for children.
When considering adding supplements to your child’s diet, it is important to remember the necessity of maintaining the 5 Pillars of Health. Sleep, staying physically active, excellent nutrition, limiting stress, and building strong relationships are of vital importance to a child’s overall health. Providing all the best supplements cannot compensate for neglecting even one of these areas. If you help your child build a strong foundation of health while they are young, it will benefit them for the rest of their life.
It is important to be aware that many supplements for children are sweetened, especially those in syrup or gummy form. Be sure to find supplements that do not have added sugars, since added sugar inhibits healthy immune function.
ImmunoBerry Liquid provides immune support for children or adults. Key ingredients are elderberry fruit, shiitake and maitake mushrooms, and beta glucan.
Elderberry remedies have been used to fight colds and influenza for centuries. Research has discovered that elderberry reduces flu symptoms 4 days earlier on average (2, 3), blocks the ability of the viruses to infect host cells (4), and exhibits many immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties (5).
Mushrooms are an excellent source of nutrients and are safe for babies to begin eating with other foods. They also have an incredibly wide range of health benefits and support immune function (6).
Beta glucan is found in many plants, including shiitake and maitake mushrooms. It is a soluble fiber that strengthens and modulates the immune response (7, 8). It is safe for children and improves their overall health (9).
We recommend that children have 1 dropperful of ImmunoBerry each day for prevention. If your child is ill, they can have 2 dropperfuls, 2-3 times per day until symptoms improve.
Vitamin D3 is necessary for a healthy immune system, and a deficiency will cause you to be more susceptible to infection and autoimmune disease. It is so important that babies born with low levels are “more likely to develop upper respiratory infections or otitis media by 3 months of age and wheezing at 15 months compared to those who had higher levels” (10). One study found that children who receive a vitamin D3 supplement were far less likely to be diagnosed with influenza A than those who received a placebo (11).
It is especially vital for growing children since it helps them absorb calcium. Children over 1 year need at least 600 IU per day and babies need 400 IU per day. You can temporarily increase the dose by 2-3 times for children over a year old who are ill until symptoms improve.
Probiotics support a child’s developing immune system, but “low levels of beneficial bacteria and microorganisms in the colon provide a greater opportunity for pathogenic bacteria to become established” (12). As children grow, their microbiome also grows. If it is full of healthy microorganisms, there is less opportunity for unhealthy bacteria to form colonies, and possibly negatively impact your child’s health throughout their lifetime. This is just one reason why it is vital to ensure that your children consistently get enough probiotics.
Probiotics also have many preventative and healing effects. Children who supplement with probiotics and vitamin C have fewer upper respiratory tract infections (18) and supplementing with probiotics alone prevents diarrhea (13, 14).
A diet that contains plenty of grains, fruits, and vegetables will increase the level of probiotics in the colon. Fermented foods are an excellent source. You can also choose to supplement, especially if your child is unwell or has needed antibiotics.
We recommend using MetaKids Probiotics by Metagenics. Chew 1 tablet each day for prevention and increase to 2 times a day for illness. For INFANTS under 1 year of age, use MetaKids Baby Probiotic. Give them 6 drops a day for prevention and you may increase to 6 drops twice a day for illness.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Vitamin C is vital to the body’s maintenance of overall health, and is seen in high concentration in immune cells.” It also prevents and treats respiratory infections and reduces the duration of the common cold (15, 16, 17).
A pilot study investigated how the combination of supplementing with vitamin C and probiotics prevented upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) in children who attend preschool. It found that children who received these supplements had far fewer days with URTI symptoms than children who received the placebo (18).
Since vitamin C is not a nutrient that stays in your body for long, it is important to consume it at regular intervals throughout the day. Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and broccoli are great sources. When your child is ill, their body needs more vitamin C, and if they do not want to eat much it may be difficult to get them to consume enough of this healing nutrient. We recommend that when your child is feeling unwell they supplement with UltraPotent C Chewable by Metagenics. Give them 500 mg up to 3 times a day for illness. You may increase the dose for children over 2 years of age. Once they are well you can reduce it to 500 mg once a day for pr