While kids tend to be more prone to “cooties” (especially during transitional seasons and when starting daycare), the great news is that they also tend to recover from illness quickly, since they are such vital little beings! Naturopathic medicine offers some great tools to help keep your little ones healthy and help them heal faster if they do get sick. My personal favourites, even for my little guy at 7 months, are vitamin D and probiotics daily, and homeopathics when we need them (for teething especially!). He’s become quite accustomed to saying “ah” when he sees the vitamin D dropper approaching. It’s too cute!
In a sense, these are healthy “cooties” for your body (good bacteria) that help keep the immune system strong and the digestive system in balance. In addition, probiotics are beneficial for stabilizing allergies, for keeping the skin healthy and preventing ear infections. For children, probiotics in powder form are ideal, as a small amount of probiotic powder can easily be added to your child’s favourite drink or even meal. 1-3 billion CFU (colony-forming units) are typically recommend for children 1-2 years, 6 billion for those aged 3-5, 9 billion for 6 to 11 year olds and 12 billion for those 12 and older.
While not every child’s favourite (or adults!), fish oil packs a healthy punch. Full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil helps to reduce irritation and inflammation in the body, in addition to the super potent brain fuel provided by the rich EPA and DHA molecules found in the oil. Fish oil can also benefit allergies and skin concerns like eczema and psoriasis. Health Canada recommends a daily maximum of 1500 mg of combined EPA and DHA for children aged 1 to 8.
The sunshine vitamin for your little sunshine! Vitamin D is critical to so many systems in the body, including the immune, digestive and musculoskeletal systems. In terms of supplementing, this is usually an easy sell for children! Liquid vitamin D supplements are ideal – typically just one drop is enough! Liquid vitamin D is easily absorbed by the body. Health Canada recommends a daily maximum of 1000 IUs for infants and children.
This water-soluble vitamin plays an important role in the keeping the immune system happy and healthy and helps to prevent colds and reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms. Vitamin C is also critical for gum health and wound healing. Did you know that papaya, bell peppers, and broccoli according to some sources, are the richest food sources of Vitamin C, offering 135 – 220% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C? Consider a little extra Vitamin C during cold and flu season for your little ones. Health Canada recommends a daily maximum of 400 mg of Vitamin C for children aged 1 to 3 and 650 mg for 4 to 8 year olds.
For older children, consider a daily multi-vitamin that contains all of their necessary nutrients to support growth and healing. I have found great success with prescribing the Orange Naturals ND Shake for Kids (in chocolate especially), as it tastes yummy, but also contains protein, greens, berries and a multi-vitamin build right in!
There are many wonderful botanicals that are not only safe for children, but work wonders in helping them recover from the common cold, cough and digestive upset. For coughs and colds, some of my favourites are Echinacea, Thyme and Licorice. Echinacea helps to stimulate the immune system and recruits the immune soldiers in the body, known as T-cells. Echinacea is particularly helpful at the start of a cold, cough or flu. Thyme and Licorice are great for reducing coughing spasms (and they taste lovely too!). For digestive upset, chamomile and linden flower are safe and gentle herbs for your little one’s tummy and nervous system. As long-standing herbal favourites, these herbs are not only soothing for the tummy but also help to settle restlessness and nervousness and encourage restful sleep. Herbs can be safely and easily given to children in a glycerin tincture. For the more sensitive taste buds, glycerin tinctures can be easily added to some warm water for a child-friendly “tea” as well as their favourite beverage.
Like herbal tinctures, homeopathics have been used for hundreds of years all around the world. They are a great solution for children due to their safety and the minimal dosing needed. Combination remedies work well particularly for “first-aid” type of concerns: teething, bites and stings, bruises, nervousness etc.
Check out Orange Natural’s Parent-Tested Parent Approved line of products formulated especially for children for some suggestions on building your child-friendly naturopathic arsenal. And of course, please consult with your naturopathic practitioner to determine if a specific product is right and safe for your child.