Top 5 supplements to keep kids healthy in winter

In winter, we all feel the consequences of reduced amounts of sunlight, restricted time outside, and close-quartered activity with sick people. Tiffany Brown shares five ways you can supplement your family’s diet to help get through winter unscathed.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones and muscles, and a lack of vitamin D may put kids at increased risk of broken bones. The Ministry of Health recommendation for children from one to 18 years of age is an AI (adequate intake) of 5µg/ day. A combination of sunlight exposure for 15 minutes a day without sunscreen, three times a week, and dietary intake from liver, eggs, fatty fish, and fortified foods may be sufficient to maintain vitamin D status during the summer, but is more difficult to achieve in the colder months, so supplementation may be advised. Those at increased risk of deficiency are very dark-skinned people, those who avoid sunlight, people who live south of Nelson-Marlborough, and people with liver or kidney disease. Talk to your GP about your requirements.

 

Vitamin C

An essential vitamin that cannot be produced by the body, water-soluble Vitamin C plays a slew of roles in the maintenance of our health. Found in fruits and vegetables like citrus, kale, kiwifruit, capsicum, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach, vitamin C is also readily available as a supplement. While the claim that vitamin C prevents a cold is unproven, there are plenty of other proven benefits of supplemental vitamin C. These include the reduction in oxidative stress by its antioxidant effect, the prevention of iron deficiency by improving iron absorption, and immunity-boosting by improving the function of white blood cells. Vitamin C is also important in the formation of collagen, cartilage, and muscle, neurotransmitters, and carnitine, a chemical that helps the breakdown and transfer of fatty acid to generate energy.

 

Olive leaf extract

Traditionally used to support the immune system, olive leaf extract has been shown to benefit both cardiovascular health and blood sugar levels in healthy people. With 40 times more antioxidant polyphenols than extravirgin olive oil, this non-toxic immune system builder was identified as a potential health-giving supplement after years of research. Powerful defence compounds in olive trees can enable them to live for more than a thousand years, despite extremes of temperature and attacks from pests, viruses and bacteria. Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, antioxidant, and protective of both digestive system and central nervous system, olive leaf extract’s list of health benefits is impressive. Specially made formulas are available for children but, again, consult your GP before adding olive leaf extract to your child’s diet.

 

Dark chocolate

Kids everywhere rejoiced when dark chocolate was endorsed by scientific studies as showing numerous health benefits. But before you pat yourself on the back for all those Easter eggs you ate this year, the delicious treat is only highly nutritious when it comes with a 7085% cocoa content. This version of chocolate provides 11 grams of fibre, 67% of the RDI for iron, 58% of the RDI for magnesium, 89% of the RDI for copper, 98% of the RDI for manganese, and plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium in every 100gram bar. With an excellent fatty acid profile, dark chocolate is loaded with biologically active antioxidant organic compounds, and can improve blood flow to the brain. It’s best to consume your moderate rations before lunch, because dark chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine and theobromine. Both of these are stimulants that could have your children bouncing off the walls.

 

Cinnamon

A spice made from the inner bark of the cinnamomum tree, cinnamon has been used as an ingredient since the time of the ancient Egyptians, when it was rare and valuable, and given as a gift to kings. These days the spice is cheap and easily obtained. Lucky us! Scientists believe the oily compound which gives cinnamon its distinctive smell is responsible for the spice’s powerful effects on our health and metabolism. Rich in antioxidants, the winning cinnamon even outranked garlic in an antioxidant race of the activity of 26 spices. Powerful enough to be used as a natural food preservative, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and can lower blood sugar levels. Cinnamon oil has been shown to treat respiratory fungal infections, as well as inhibiting the growth of bacteria such as listeria and salmonella.

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