Q: How can I strengthen my child’s immune system?
A: Working on several healthy lifestyle habits can help optimize immune function at any age. Areas to focus on are adequate sleep, good nutrition, regular exercise, and minimizing stress. Staying up to date on vaccines is also very important.
Q: Are vitamins recommended?
A: Only in specific circumstances. The majority of children do not need multivitamins. Even picky eaters do not necessarily have vitamin deficiencies. The body is able to extract vitamins and minerals more effectively from food than from a processed vitamin. Having a diet that contains some food from each food group would be ideal. In healthy kids who eat a fairly balanced diet, there is no proven benefit to giving vitamin supplements. In addition, gummy vitamins can be bad for the teeth. It is important to keep them out of reach of children as overdose can be harmful.
Some instances in which vitamins are recommended include:
- Vitamin D supplementation is necessary in exclusively breastfed babies, and in children who are on dairy-free diets (and don’t drink a fortified milk substitute).
- Iron supplementation may be helpful in children with vegetarian or vegan diets, depending on whether they have alternate sources of iron in their diets.
- Multivitamins may be recommended for a premature infant or a child with an extremely restricted eating pattern.
- Vitamin supplements might be needed for specific medical conditions interfering with absorption of certain nutrients.
Q: What about other herbal or natural supplements?
A: In general, other supplements are not recommended or necessary. Herbal and natural remedies can also have side effects. The FDA regulates supplements as “food” products but guarantees are not made as to their safety or effectiveness. There aren’t any specific supplements proven to prevent children from catching viruses.
Q: How can I make sure my child doesn’t get sick as they start to spend more time around other people?
A: Good hand washing, following current recommendations for mask wearing, and adequate rest/nutrition will continue to be the most effective ways to avoid germs.
Please reach out if there are further questions about keeping your child’s immune system healthy, we are always happy to help!