Key Nutrients in Children’s Immune HealthSep 30, 2022 06:45AM ● By Keri Barron
Kids are exposed to many germs, viruses and potential intruders from a very young age. Supporting children’s immune health through nutrients and dietary compounds can help reduce time spent sick and provide a much-needed boost to their developing immune systems.
Vitamin C is probably the best-known nutrient for supporting immune health, in both adults and children. It can stimulate the immune system and plays a critical role in preventing oxidative damage that can occur as part of the response to an infection.
Vitamin D probably does not come to mind when thinking of how to support children’s immune health, but it should. This vitamin is a powerful immune regulator due to the presence of vitamin D receptors on almost every type of immune cell.
Zinc, a mineral involved in hundreds of reactions in the body, is an important component for rapidly dividing cells, including those in the immune system. This mineral helps defend against oxidative stress; increases components of the immune response, such as antibodies; and helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes, the first line of defense against invading pathogens.
Gut health is an important, but often forgotten, piece of immune health. Maintaining a diverse, healthy population of beneficial bacteria can help the immune system respond properly when it encounters a pathogen. Probiotics can help deliver specific good bacteria to the gut, whereas prebiotics are a source of food for bacteria that are already present. One specific prebiotic—2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL)—is unique in that it is only usable by good bacteria. Providing 2’-FL can help beneficial bacteria flourish, which helps support both gut and immune health. 2’-FL can also act as a binding decoy for toxins and pathogens, preventing invasion into the body.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) can also support children’s immune health. This herb contains high concentrations of phenolic compounds called anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants and capable of supporting the immune system’s response to an infection.
Children are especially vulnerable to pathogens due to their developing immune systems. Providing additional support through vitamins, minerals, herbs and prebiotics can enhance the immune response and provide both acute and long-lasting immune support.
Keri Barron, Ph.D., is the scientific nutrition
writer for Standard Process. For more information, visit WholisticMatters.com.