Many of us in Boulder, CO—and all across the country—are getting ready to start a new school year! As we settle back into bedtime routines, packing school lunches and juggling kids’ activities, parents often ask us how they can best support their children’s health during this transition.
We believe that the foundation of health always starts with a balanced and varied diet of whole, unprocessed foods. Like the rest of us, kids should be eating abundant vegetables and fruits, protein from animal and/or vegetable sources, complex carbohydrates from whole grains and starchy vegetables, and good quality fats. Processed foods and added sugars should be kept to a minimum. Consuming adequate water is also very important, especially in our high altitude, dry climate.
With all this said, many kids (especially picky eaters) do not meet these nutritional requirements. Even today’s healthy eaters are unlikely to be getting all of their nutritional needs met through diet alone.
I’d like to share my recommendations for the Back-to-School supplements that will help support your children’s health as they transition into their year ahead.
I am going to break this down into two categories: Foundational Supplements and Targeted Immune Support.
1. Multivitamin & Multimineral Formula
Unfortunately, the quality of our soil has decreased over the last 40-50 years and studies have shown that even organic food simply has less nutrients than it did in the recent past. In addition, our bodies are continuously being challenged by the rising level of toxins in our environment. Although supplements are not an alternative to a healthy diet, they can help support those efforts.
We think of a multi as an “insurance policy” that helps fill in those dietary gaps and ensures that your children are getting their absolute basic needs covered.
The word probiotic literally translates to “good bacteria”. We have ten times more bacteria in our digestive system than we have human cells. The gut bacteria function as an organ that digests our food, makes vitamins, protects us from infections, and acts as the front line of our immune system. Today’s lifestyle is very challenging for our gut bacteria and it often needs to be tended to.
Taking oral probiotics has been associated with countless health benefits from decreasing your risk for the common cold, asthma, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, depression, anxiety, and more. You name it—it’s probably been studied. The exact bacteria strains and amounts are still debated. We recommend 10-30 billion daily for most healthy children.
3. Omega 3’s
Omega 3’s are also known as essential fatty acids. Typically from fish or cod liver oil, omega 3’s are needed by every single cell in our bodies. Omega 3’s must be obtained from food or supplements and studies have shown that as many as 90% of the world is deficient. They are essential for immune function, nervous system health, and hormone balance. Additionally, they act as direct anti-inflammatory molecules in the body.
4. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. It is derived from the interaction between cholesterol in our body and exposure to sunshine. It turns out that the angle of the earth in relation to the sun is crucial for Vitamin D production, and although Colorado is very sunny we actually can only make sufficient D here approximately three-months of the year.
All it takes is a quick Google search to realize that Vitamin D deficiency is very common and associated with almost all disease processes. Most children need 1000 IU per day and adults need a minimum of 2000 IU per day. Unlike most other vitamins, too much Vitamin D can be harmful.
SHOP THE FOUNDATIONAL FOUR KITS
I have put together the Foundational Four Kits to assist my patients. Please choose the kit for your child based upon their age or preference (liquid vs. chewable vs. pills). Our age-appropriate dosing recommendations will be listed within each kit when you view the products or purchase them.
TARGETED IMMUNE SUPPORT
Some children benefit greatly from targeted immune support during the school year when they are continuously exposed to viral and bacterial infections. First, make sure that your child’s Foundational Four Supplements (above) are in place and that your child is eating well and hydrating adequately, as mentioned above.
These additional supplements can support your child through cold & flu season. They will help bolster a healthy immune system and support a speedier recovery should they get ill.
Herbal & Mushroom Immune Support
A combination of herbs and mushrooms that assist the immune system by supporting natural killer (NK) cell activity, cytokine synthesis, and the T-cell and B-cell mediated responses.
The well document benefits of vitamin C are too numerous to list here, but this vitamin is a very cost-effective way to support inflammation, detoxification, and proper immune function.
Zinc deficiency is very common in the hundreds of patients we have tested. Zinc is a major player for rapidly dividing cells like our immune system.
SHOP THE COLD & FLU KITS
For more targeted immune support, I have created children’s Cold & Flu Support Kits. For young children, please choose option 1, which contains all liquid supplements. For older children who can swallow pills, please choose option 2. Again, our age-appropriate dosing recommendations will be listed within each kit when you view the products or purchase them.
The Cold & Flu Support Kits also contain a homeopathic used for reducing cold & flu symptoms and the frequency of respiratory tract infections as well as a throat spray that contains antiviral & antibacterial herbs for upper respiratory support. You would only give your child these if he/she were to get sick.
We know that you have a lot of options for purchasing supplements, and we greatly appreciate your support. Your support helps us to continue to share helpful information and resources with our community.
From all of us at Mindful Pediatrics, we wish your children a strong and healthy school year ahead!