Somehow every year, summer tricks me into thinking it’ll never end. The sunshine seems to make my kids and I feel superhuman; we pack play and work into seemingly endless days, collapsing in bed only when the clock and a few yawns remind us it’s way past bedtime.
But last week, with back-to-school Monday looming, both my kids surprised me by coming down with a nasty cold—an unwelcome harbinger of chillier, shorter days that will soon come, and a reminder that it’s time to boost their immune systems as they go back to their kid-filled classrooms.
That means making sure they wash their hands frequently, eat a healthy diet (cutting back on sugar, dairy, and gluten if they seem immune-compromised), and get enough sleep. Beyond that, here are my five favorite supplements to boost kids’ immunity.
WishGarden Herbs’ Daily Immune KIDS
I love this wonderful tincture to help keep bugs at bay. It’s made by a local company from extracts of astragalus root, echinacea flowers, red clover blossoms, marshmallow root, and violet flowers. Dose: Give 15-20 drops daily
WishGarden’s Kick-It Immune for Kids
If your kids are already showing symptoms, use this tincture made from extracts of echinacea, plus osha root, elderflower, yerba santa leaf, and hawthorne berry. Dose: When humanly possible, give a 15-20 drop dose EVERY HOUR, especially the first day or two of illness. My kids recover better and faster when I am able to do this.
“Every child should be taking 1,000 to 2,000 IU of D-3 a day; it’s huge for preventing illness,” says Tara Skye Goldin, ND, a naturopathic doctor and homeopath in Boulder, Colo. Even if your kids spend a lot of time outside, the sunscreen you slather on blocks the rays the body uses to manufacture D. Plus, the school year means more time indoors. Try: NOW Foods Liquid D-3 (cholecalciferol)
These helpful bacteria have “a complex relationship” to the immune system, says Goldin. Probably the primary place where our body’s inside meets the outside world, the gut (preferably a healthy one) is an important first line of defense against evil invaders. Dose: 15-20 billion organisms or CFUs, up to 30 billion after a dose of antibiotics, which kill off gut bacteria. ReNew Life’s Ultimate Flora Advanced Immunity offers 10 billion CFUs of research-backed S. Boulardii per serving.
A good multivitamin
Look for one with low sugar and no artificial colors. Be sure to check nutrient amounts. Some are quite low, so you’d have to take several to reach an effective dose for some nutrients. Try: Nature’s Plus Source of Life Animal Parade chewables contain 100 percent of Daily Values for most major nutrients as well as some vegetable concentrates, and are sweetened with fructose. Hero Nutritional’s new SugarFree YummiBears are the first gummy on the market with lo han fruit, a healthy alternative sweetener.