HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD'S IMMUNE SYSTEM
You’ve likely heard about the importance of your immune system.1 But how does the immune system work to support your child’s wellness? Understanding what the immune system is and how to support it can help your kids stay healthy as they grow. Eating a well-balanced diet and taking supplements can support the immune system, but it can be challenging when your child is a picky eater or can’t swallow supplements that come in the form of a large pill. Keep reading to learn more about the immune systems and find out how a well-balanced diet paired with supplements can help support your child’s immune system.
What Is the Immune System?
The immune system protects your body from outside invaders.1,2 Some of your body’s organs, cells, and proteins work together to make up your immune system. Examples of the parts of your body that encompass your immune system are:2
- The adenoids located at the back of your nasal passage
- The bone marrow that is found in your bone cavities
- Lymphoid tissue in your small intestine
- The thymus, the two small, round lobes that are connected behind your breastbone
- The tonsils in the back of your throat
- Vessels that carry some white blood cells, known as lymphocytes, to your bloodstream
- Lymph nodes, the small bean-shaped organs that connect the vessels that carry lymphocytes
There are two types of white blood cells that help your immune system: phagocytes and lymphocytes.1,3 Phagocytes help the body defend against foreign invaders.1 Lymphocytes are like the body’s “memory” and tell the immune system to destroy things that have been harmful in the past.1 There are two types of lymphocytes: B and T lymphocytes.1 B lymphocytes are located within the bone marrow and create antibodies.1 T lymphocytes are located in the thymus gland and destroy harmful irritants that have been found by the B lymphocytes.1
Your Child’s Immune System
The different parts of the immune system that are found in children are:1,2,4
- The innate immune system. This is the immune system your child is born with. It is the first system to respond when their body encounters an invader. For example, your child's skin and mucous membranes are part of the innate immune system.
- The adaptive, or acquired, immune system. This immune system develops as your child gets older. In this immune system, the B lymphocytes create the antibodies that protect your child if the threat returns to attack their body.
- The passive immune system. This is a temporary immune system that your child gets from another source. Examples of sources for your child’s passive immunity are the placenta and breast milk. The placenta provides your child with antibodies that they have when you give birth. Breast milk delivers protective assistance in the form of antibodies.
Additional Ways to Support Your Child's Immune System
There are numerous ways you can help support your child’s immune system development as they grow. One of the best ways to provide support for your child’s immune system is to make sure they eat a well-balanced diet. They should eat foods that provide nutrients like zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, folate, magnesium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, and K.5
Other ways your child’s immune system can get more support are making sure your child gets enough sleep, encouraging your child to exercise, and helping your child manage their stress levels.5
Vitamin C and Immune Support
Vitamin C is one of the many nutrients that supports your child’s immune system.6,7 The human body doesn’t produce vitamin C on its own, so your child can get it from foods like citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, and spinach.7
Dietary supplements can help kids get the nutrients they need. Try incorporating vitamin C gummies for kids into your child’s well-balanced diet.
- Immune System. John Hopkins Medicine: John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Patients-Families/Health-Library/HealthDocNew/Immune-System. Accessed 09/07/21.
- The Immune System. Stanford Children’s Health: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=all-about-the-immune-system-90-P01665. Accessed 09/07/21.
- Your Immune System. Nemours KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/immune.html. Accessed 09/07/21.
- Development of the Immune System. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. https://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/human-immune-system/development-immune-system. Accessed 09/07/21.
- How to Boost Your Kid’s Immunity Heading Into the New School Year. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-boost-your-kids-immunity-heading-into-the-new-school-year/. Accessed 09/07/21.
- 3 Vitamins That Are Best for Boosting Your Immunity. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/3-vitamins-best-boosting-immunity/. Accessed 09/07/21.
- Vitamin C. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-c/art-20363932. Accessed 09/07/21.