We all know that sending kids back to school is a recipe for increased colds and illnesses. Even with all the extra precautions being taken this year, the sharing of germs is likely to happen, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. While we all want to avoid COVID-19, it is normal and healthy for your kids to have a few sniffles during the school year. It’s a good sign that their immune systems are doing their job.
If you have decided to send your kids back to school this year, you may be wondering how you can best support their health and immunity. In addition to the public health precautions already in place, here are the things I am doing with my kids to ensure they are as healthy as possible:
- Vitamin D – in addition to bone health, Vitamin D is a very important immune nutrient. Many people are deficient in Vitamin D, especially here in Saskatchewan, where we are too far from the sun for most of the year to make our own.
- Zinc – another co-factor for many of the jobs your immune system does, and another common deficiency in the general population. Zinc can cause a stomachache if not taken with food, so be sure to give this one with a meal.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C has many important roles in the body, including support of white blood cells (which are your main immune defense). Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant, protecting your cells from damage, especially damage that can be caused when you are sick and inflamed. Again, most of us could use more of this nutrient, so taking extra at this time of year is not a bad idea.
- Low Sugar Diet – this time of year is when sugar tends to creep into our diets. Between back to school, Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, treats are everywhere at this time of year. But sugar is not good for your body or your immune system, and most of us are already eating more than what is healthy for us to begin with. Keeping added sugars (including those in foods such as cereal, granola bars and yogurt) under 20g per day is optimal for your overall health and to support good immune function. If that feels overwhelming, start by just tracking how much added sugar your kids are eating, and see how much you can cut it back if needed. Remember, slow and steady is better than no change at all.
- Plenty of Sleep – with many extra-curricular activities being delayed, it may be easier to ensure your kids are getting to bed on time. And that’s a good thing, because sleep is when your body does most of its healing and repairing. Depending on their age, children should be getting anywhere from 9-12 hours of sleep per night. Having a regular, consistent sleep and wake time is also important for ensuring optimal rest.
If you are interested in exploring this information in a more personalized or in-depth way, please book a consult for yourself or your children at 306-373-5209. With an individual consultation, I can make specific dosing recommendations, and also more specific suggestions based on your child’s individual needs. In the meantime, stay healthy out there!
By: Dr. Michelle Marcoux, ND