The kids are back in school, autumn is settling in, and a lot of mums and dads are – very reasonably – worried about keeping their kids as protected as they can be from colds and flus this season. Our pharmacist Karen Graham MPSI is here to help alleviate some worries, with her most simple and practical tips for supporting your childrens’ immunity and health this winter….
Fruits, veggies and good, nourishing food are so important to supporting children’s immunity, but of course any parent knows that getting kids to eat their fruits and veggies isn’t always the easiest thing in the world to do! If you have some picky-eaters on your hands, you might need to get a little bit creative. Smoothies are always a good way to sneak fruits and even veggies into their diet, and with vegetables, baking or blending them into a meal is a tried and tested trick… you can hide an awful lot of goodness in a well blended vegetable sauce or a muffin baked with shredded courgettes in the mix.
The three key vitamins kids need to stay well, especially in autumn and winter, are Vitamin A, C, and D. Vitamin A helps keep the cells inside and outside of their little bodies healthy – think green, yellow and red fruit and vegetables. Vitamin C is found in fruits like oranges and strawberries and veggies like broccoli and bell peppers, and it supports the immune system and keeps their skin and bones strong and healthy. Vitamin D keeps our bones, teeth and muscles strong, and it’s the sunshine vitamin – so in Ireland we all need a little bit extra of this over winter, kids and adults alike!
A little extra help…
If you want to ensure your little ones are getting all of the vitamins they need to help them stay as healthy as possible, there are some great supplements made specially for children that will make sure they get everything they need (se below for our list of recommendations).
Our star supplement for kids is Revive Junior, as it supports the immune system and also the heart, bones and brain. It contains both pre and probiotics, as well as four fruit and vegetable powders and 18 vitamins and minerals. This is flavour free so can easily be added to water, juice or yogurt. It’s free from fillers, sugar, preservatives, additives, colourants and binders, making it suitable for all diets – it’s even suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. You can give it to your kids every morning, Monday to Friday, ideally with or just after breakfast.
A good night’s sleep
Kids are growing and developing all the time, and getting enough sleep is absolutely critical to help them rest, recover, and keep their immune systems healthy and strong; better able to protect them against the colds and flus that are so easily passed around in classrooms and playgrounds.
School-aged children need to sleep between 9 and 11 hours a night, and a solid and well-established bedtime routine is a great way to help them get it. Try to limit ‘stimulating’ activities like video games and TV from about an hour before bedtime, and make sure their room is dark and quiet and the noise in the house is kept low. You might get some resistance to bedtime (didn’t we all want to stay up a little later when we were young?), but you can create a routine that gives your children some power too – they can choose their pyjamas and what books they want to read, as well as choosing small, healthy bedtime snack.
Give them a hand
Handwashing has been very much in the spotlight this year, and it really is one of the very best preventative measures you can take against catching colds and flus. Keep reminding your children to do it often and properly – we have a ‘handy’ guide (sorry!) that can help you make sure your kids know exactly how and for how long they need to wash their mitts to stay as safe from illness as possible.
Keep them moving
It’s not as easy to do when the weather gets worse and the days shorter, but keeping your children active and their bodies moving is key to keeping their bodies and immune systems strong and healthy.
The truth is, it’s even trickier this year with so many restrictions in place on indoor activity, but there are still some things you can do. If you have a family dog, get the kids involved in daily walks – it’s a great way to spend a little time together as well as being good exercise… just make sure they’re wrapped up if it’s cold or raining.
If a daily walk isn’t an option, try to instigate some energetic games that you can play right in the living room – learning dance moves is a big hit with kids, and there are even some great online yoga videos designed for kids that they can easily follow, and that are good for both body and mind.
You know your children better than anyone, so remember to keep talking to them, checking in and making sure they’re ok, both mentally and physically. This year especially, there’s a lot of worry around illness and getting sick, and kids are not oblivious to all the talk of viruses and pandemics. Touch base regularly with some reassurance, and to make sure they’re feeling ok.
Remember, if you have any worries, queries or questions about your kids health (or your own) over the coming cold months, we’re always here. Give our pharmacist healthline a call, or pop into the store for a chat – we’re here to help.
Love, McCauley x
Our pick of immunity-supporting supplements for kids: