Top 5 Immune Boosters for Kids
If you have a young child, then you are no stranger to dealing with colds, flus, and sicknesses. Getting sick is just part of life for young children, and it is something to be expected.
Because their immune systems haven’t yet fully developed, a child’s risk of infection is much higher than that of an adult’s. As kids grow, they have to build up their immune system from scratch by battling all the bacteria, viruses, and other germs that they encounter out in the world. And during this time as they build up their defenses, it is normal for children to get sick from time to time.1 2
From the common cold to ear infections and viral infections such as the flu, and even the recent multisystem inflammatory illness in children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19, there are many common illnesses that children may encounter.
As much as you might hate to see your child under the weather, coming into contact with germs and getting sick is part of the process of developing a healthy immune system.
But there are some things you can do to help this process along and limit the sickness your child experiences. Supporting a healthy immune system can help keep your kid from getting quite so many illnesses—or at least reduce their duration or severity.3
Below are some of the best immune boosters for kids that can help to keep your family healthy and happy.
Top 5 ways to boost your child’s immune health
The best immune boosters for kids involve healthy daily habits, powerful infection-fighting nutrients, and more.
These are the top 5 things you can do to support your child’s immune health:
1. Make sleep a priority
Getting plenty of rest is one of the top things you can do for immune health at any age.4 Just as adults need lots of good quality sleep to keep from getting sick, so do children. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s immune system has a harder time fighting infection and reducing inflammation, for example.
Preschool-aged children should be getting between 10 and 13 hours each night, kids aged 6-13 should be getting between 9 and 11 hours, and adolescents should be getting between 8 and 10 hours.5
2. Fill the family diet with nutritious foods
It turns out that nutrition and immunity are very tightly connected.6 There are many nutrients that impact immune activity. And when you don’t feed your body enough of them, it can lead to increased susceptibility to infection and worsened symptoms when you do get sick.1
That is why giving your kid plenty of foods packed with immune-boosting nutrients is key. You’ll want to make sure you are providing your child with all the nutrient building blocks they need to keep their immune systems happy and ready to fight whatever comes their way.
Some of the nutrients you’ll want to pack into your child’s diet include:
- Vitamin A (in green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, carrots, cod liver oil, eggs, dairy, and more)
- Vitamin C (in citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, kiwi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and more)
- Vitamin E (in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, broccoli, spinach, and more)
- B vitamins (in leafy greens, nutritional yeast, eggs, dairy, beef, shellfish, legumes, and more)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (in salmon, mackerel, sardines, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, and more)
- Zinc (in red meat, poultry, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, and more)
- Selenium (in sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, fish, eggs, poultry, oats, meat, and more)1 2 3 6
When it comes down to it, a well-balanced diet full of lots of vegetables and whole foods will be really good for building your child’s immune defenses.
A great child-friendly tip is to see how many colors of the rainbow you can find on your plate at each meal. These colors should be coming from all-natural sources like orange carrots, green broccoli, purple cabbage, and red peppers, for example.
Also make sure that your child is drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices that can suppress immune activity.
3. Consider immune-boosting supplements
As you’ve learned above, there are many nutrients that are tightly linked to immune health. Deficiencies in certain areas can increase your child’s risk of getting sick.
It can be helpful to boost your child’s intake of nutrients like vitamins and minerals, along with probiotics and herbs like echinacea. This is especially true during the cold and flu season when you want your child’s defenses as prepared as possible to fight invaders.
Many supplements—including certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, and probiotics—have been shown to protect against the common cold.3 Some supplements to consider looking into include:
These supplements are all known to support immune activity, and they may help your child’s immune system to be better able to deal with whatever pathogens it may encounter.
4. Encourage active play, exercise, and time outside
Colds and flus occur most often during the winter months. While it may seem counterintuitive to go outside with the family when it is cold out, it is very important that the whole family stays active and spends time outdoors all year long.
There are several reasons why active play and time outdoors is beneficial for your child’s immune system. For one, physical activity strengthens immune function.11 12 Additionally, getting outside allows your kid to get some fresh air away from all of the germs and bacteria that are trapped inside.11 And time in the sun also boosts vitamin D, one of the best nutrients for immune system health.7
Being active on a regular basis can help to keep the cold, flu, and other illnesses at bay. So make sure to encourage your children to play, get active, and spend time outside all year long. Just be sure to bundle them up in proper gear if the weather calls for it.
5. Promote good hygiene to keep germs from spreading
Bacteria and germs can spread between children like wildfire. And a lack of hand washing, along with improper washing techniques, contributes to much of the problem.13 So what is one of the simplest, easiest things you can do to help keep your child healthy? Encourage hand washing and good hygiene.
With hand washing, try to make it fun to promote a long-term habit. Teach your child to sing a song to make sure they wash for long enough. Get foaming soap. Let your kid pick out their own colorful hand towels or fun-shaped soaps. Get creative so that your child will be more likely to keep up with the habit.
And don’t forget dental hygiene, too. Brushing teeth regularly helps to prevent the spread of germs as well.
Looking to keep the whole family happy and healthy throughout the year? Then consider these top immune boosters for kids.
With some simple daily habits, adjustments to diet, and perhaps a few natural supplements, you can support your child’s immune defenses so that they are ready to fight off all the germs they will undoubtedly encounter each and every day.
Remember, it is very important to:
- Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep.
- Feed the whole family a balanced diet full of immune-boosting nutrients.
- Consider supplements that can support the immune system.
- Prioritize active play and time outdoors.
- Encourage good hygiene habits.
Along with these 5 tips, a ZYTO bioscan can provide additional insights related to your child’s immune wellness. The ZYTO Balance biosurvey, for example, scans several items related to the immune system and shows which products your child responded to most strongly in that specific category.
About Chelsea Clark
Chelsea Clark is a writer and certified health and wellness coach who is passionate about supporting others along their own health journeys. She enjoys helping people make positive, lasting changes so that they can live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
1. Maggini, S., A. Pierre, & P.C. Calder. “Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course.” Nutrients 10, no. 10 (2018): 1531.
2. Childs, C.E., P.C. Calder, & E.A. Miles. “Diet and Immune Function.” Nutrients 11, no. 8 (2019): 1933.
3. Rondanelli, M, A. Miccono, S. Lamburghini, et al. “Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds—Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2018): 5813095.
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10. Hao, Q., B.R. Dong, & T. Wu. “Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2 (2015).
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12. Carlsson, E., J. Ludvigsson, K. Huss, & M. Faresjö. “High physical activity in young children suggests positive effects by altering autoantigen‐induced immune activity.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science 26, no. 4 (2015): 441-450.
13. Larson, E. “A Causal Link Between Handwashing and Risk of Infection? Examination of the Evidence.” Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology 9, no. 1 (1988). 28-36.