Immune support for children

Immune support for Children

April 23, 2018

Runny noses, itchy throats and constants cough, recurrent colds and flus and ear infections these may just be some of the issues you are trying to avoid with your children as we get ready to head into Winter. Here we are sharing some nutritional and lifestyle approaches to help prepare your children for winter and boost their immune system.


Nutrients to support immune health


Vitamin C – is an important antioxidant that plays a vital role in our immune system function decreasing the length and severity of symptoms associated with colds and flus. Regular intake of Vitamin C has been shown in therapeutic trials to reduce the duration of colds in children by up to 14%. Whilst eating foods rich in Vitamin C such as Citrus and Kiwi fruits may help to reduce wheezing symptoms in children, especially among already susceptible individuals. To get a good dose of Vitamin C reach for the most concentrated sources of food that contains them – Blackcurrants, green and red capsicum, oranges and strawberries. Other good sources include watermelon, papaya, citrus fruits, broccoli and cauliflower.


Vitamin A – helps maintain the integrity of mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, which is the first line of defence against infections in this area. Vitamin A can be found in deep yellow, green and red coloured fruit and vegetables.


Vitamin D   is not only found in some foods such as oily fish (Herring, tuna, Salmon), egg yolks, cheese and cod liver oil but it is also produced and stored in our body with adequate sun exposure. Vitamin D enhances the immune systems response to both Viral and Bacterial agents, several clinic trials indicate Vitamin D may be of benefit to decrease the events of respiratory tract infections.


Zinc – is important for our immune system function, a deficiency in Zinc can increase the risk and severity of infections and well as delayed wound healing. Clinical trials with Zinc supplementation for 6 months in children aged 6-35 months showed a reduction by 45% in the incident of acute lower respiratory tract infections. Your child can get zinc from foods such as eggs yolks, seafood (oysters), nuts, lamb, asparagus, lentils and sesame and pumpkin seeds.


Probiotics – With around 70-80% of our immune tissue located in our digestive tract it’s no wonder gut health is so important for our immune response. Probiotics can be of benefit in boosting our immune system.   Supplementation with probiotics is safe and effective way to reduce incidence and duration of fever, rhinorrhoea (mucus fluid in the nose), cough. Probiotics use can also reduce the incidence of antibiotic prescription and missed school days attributable to illness for children. When tested against the use of a placebo probiotics reduced the duration of fever, coughing and rhinorrhoea by an additional 48%.


Top tips to action:

To support your child’s immune system, it is important to

  1. Eat the rainbow – by selecting a variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables you ensure your child is getting a rich balance of a variety of Vitamins and minerals needed to support optimal immune system function
  2. Hand washing – it is important to encourage regular hand washing. Hand washing with water and regular soap and thorough drying can reduce infection rates by up to 40%.
  3. Increase foods that support a healthy gut – this includes foods rich in fibre, fermented foods and broths made from organic meat bones. We stock a great organic bone broth in the clinic that is easy to make and add to your winter meals.
  4. Use herbal based products such as cough mixes and ear drops these are often kinder and more gentle for children than pharmaceuticals. Upon consultation, your Naturopath can provide you with advice on which herbs would be best suited for your child.
  5. During an active infection reduce foods that encourage the production of mucus: This includes foods such as processed foods and those high in sugar, banana’s, dairy and soy foods.
  6. Instead opt for foods that expel mucus and boost the immune system: Pineapple, seasonal greens, garlic, onion and warming spices.


If your child suffers from recurring colds, flu and immune related issues our Naturopaths are trained to provide diet and lifestyle advice and can also prescribe Herbal and nutritional medicine that may be of benefit to boosting your child’s immune system.


To book a time with one of our clinical naturopaths, visit our Book Now page or call the clinic on 03 9337 8572.



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Forastiere F, Pistelli R, Sestini P, Fortes C, Renzoni, E, Rusconi F, DellÓrco V, Ciccone G, Bisanti L. Consumption of fresh fruit rich in vitamin C and wheezing symptoms in children. Thorax 2000; 55:283-288.


Garaiova I, Muchová J, Nagyová Z, et al. Probiotics and vitamin C for the prevention of respiratory tract infections in children attending preschool: a randomised controlled pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr 2015;69(3):373-379.


Leyer, G, Li, S, Mubashe, ME, Reifer, C, Ouwehand, A. Probiotic effects on Cold and Influenza-like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children. American Academy of Paediatrics: Paediatrics  2009; 124 (2)


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Sazawal, S, Black, RE, Jalla, S, Mazumdar, S, Sinha, a, Bhan, MK. Zinc supplementation Reduces the Incidence of Acute Lower Respiratory Infections in Infants and Preschool Children: A Double-Blind, Controlled trial. American Academy of Paediatrics, Paediatrics, 1998;102(1)


Natalie Earles

Natalie is an empathetic and caring Clinical Naturopath who creates a relaxed and non-judgemental environment for her clients. She has a special interest in the management of skin conditions and digestive disturbances. She is registered with the National Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA).