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Immune Support Foods for Kids

Cold & Flu

Toddler girl eating vegetables in a high chair

As parents, you always want to set up your child up for success. This goes for school and life skills as much as it does in setting up a healthy immune system. Cold and flu season can be stressful when the question of whether your child will get seriously ill or not is raised. Their immune system can help them repel and fight off cold and flus.

The immune system needs adequate nutrition to work properly.i  When your child is fighting an infection, they need more energy and nutrition from their food.ii By making sure your child is getting the right food and nutrition, you can help support their immune system fight sickness more effectively. Read on for our top five immune support foods for kids.

5 Immune Support Foods for Toddlers & Kids:

1. Dark Leafy Green Vegetables

Dark leafy green vegetables are an important category of immune support foods for kids. They include spinach, kale, chard, etc. Spinach in particular is a good choice because it is a good source of vitamin A.iii Vitamin A supports many of the systems of the body, including the immune system.iv

Include both fresh and cooked spinach into your family meals. Fresh spinach cooks down very small, so you can include it in pasta dishes and casseroles without them noticing very much. If your kids are hesitant to eat fresh salad, get them involved in making the salad. When children have a bigger role in making dinner, they often end up liking the end results a lot more!

2. Citrus Fruits

A popular immune support food for kids is citrus fruits. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes are a source of Vitamin C.v Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans and contributes to the immune system by supporting various cellular functions.vi A vitamin C deficiency can results in an impaired immune system and higher susceptibility to sickness.vii

Help your little ones eat more citrus by making them snacks with orange slices, fresh 100% orange juice or fruit salad.

3. Almonds

Almonds are another immune support food for kids. They are a good source of zinc, which is an additional micronutrient important in the immune system. Zinc along with vitamin A regulate cell division, which is an essential function for a successful response within the immune system.viii You can encourage your family to eat more almonds by offering almonds at snack time or adding them into trail mix at home.

4. Sweet Potatoes

This sweet orange tuber is a food rich in vitamin A.ix Vitamin A helps the body launch a successful immune system response to infections and sickness. Plus, it supports many other systems of the body like vision, growth and development.x

Sweet potatoes might be one of the easiest foods on this list to get your children to eat! They are a fun, bright color, they taste sweet and they can be made into either desserts or savory dishes. They are incredibly versatile. You can try making sweet potato fries in the oven, sweet potato casserole or simple baked sweet potatoes.

5. Garlic

While it may seem strange, garlic has surely earned its place on this list of immune support foods for toddlers and kids. Garlic has been known for centuries to influence health and provide benefits to the body.xi It contains numerous compounds with the ability to affect immunity positively. A study in 2016 showed that the consumption of garlic extract helped reduce cold and flu symptoms and may enhance immune cell function.xii

While garlic is fairly pungent by itself, it is a wonderful flavor enhancer for almost any savory dish. You can include it in family meals like stir-fry, chicken noodle soup, pizza sauces and more.

If your child does end up getting sick despite your best efforts, don't worry. Keep making sure they get adequate sleep, hydration and nutrients. Look through our children's cold basics as well as information on how to help your sick child feel better. Get tips and resources to stay prepared during times of sickness with help from Children's Advil. Remember that Children's Advil works to temporarily reduce fever and relieve minor aches and pains due to the common cold. Learn more about Children's Advil products today.

If you turn to supplements for your child, whether natural or not, make sure to consult your pediatrician first. Your doctor will know what nutrients in what amounts are right for your child.

SOURCES:

i. Diet and Immune Function. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

ii. Diet and Immune Function. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

iii. What is vitamin A and why do we need it? U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3936685/. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

iv. Ibid.

v. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Consumers. National Institute for Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

vi. Vitamin C and Immune Function. U.S. National Library of Medicine.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

vii. Ibid.

viii. Diet and Immune Function. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

ix. What is vitamin A and why do we need it? U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3936685/. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

x. Ibid.

xi. Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity. The Journal of Nutrition. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/146/2/433S/4584824. Accessed 4/24/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in a red box in source PDF.

xii. Ibid.