I have recently been fielding questions from parents about protecting their children from coronavirus, COVID-19. While at some time in the future we may all be at risk of contracting COVID-19, the good news is that children seem to be less affected by this illness. In other words, your children may carry the virus, but will not likely have severe symptoms from it. There is no consensus as to why this is the case.
Although our childrens’ immune systems seem to provide some protection against coronavirus, they will still be able to transmit the virus to others if we see a surge in local cases.
While we can’t predict how widespread the pandemic will spread, there is a lot we CAN do to protect ourselves and our immune systems. I am therefore sharing specific suggestions to help keep you, your children, and your community healthy.
Prevent and minimize the spread of viruses:
- WASH HANDS frequently and vigorously. The recommendation is to lather with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is longer than most of us spend washing. Pick a favourite song and sing the first verse and/or chorus to keep time. (My kids always loved singing a full verse of Old MacDonald Had A Farm).
- Teach and remind your children to cough or sneeze into an elbow or tissue.
- Avoid touching hands to face. (Easier said than done, especially for young children. Hence frequent hand washing!)
- Wash children’s toys and surfaces regularly with non-toxic cleaners, such as vinegar solution.
- Children and adults should remain home if they are sick. This includes school, work, and social or sporting activities.
Bolster your immune system:
- Get plenty of sleep. Young children and teenagers require more sleep than adults, so check an online sleep chart if you are concerned your child is not getting enough ZZZs.
- Exercise daily. For adults, even a daily 20-minute brisk walk will provide benefits. For children who are mobile, getting to the park for some fresh air and a run around is ideal, while older children may prefer an organized sport.
- Eat whole foods and avoid excess sugar in your family’s diet. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and proteins will provide the nutrients your growing child’s immune system requires to stay active and strong.
Improve immune system communication and response:
- Take a daily probiotic supplement. Probiotics have been proven to help protect against infection and reduce inflammation. Many probiotics come in chewable or powdered form.
- Take a daily Vitamin D3 supplement, a potent immune system modulator. I recommend Vitamin D3 drops delivered directly under the tongue for rapid absorption into the bloodstream.
- Supplement with Zinc, shown to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of upper respiratory infections. Zinc is often available as a lozenge, and for younger children can be delivered as a powder.
- As with all supplements, please purchase from a trusted vendor. Supplements should be free of dyes, chemicals, sugars, and other food additives.
If you have any other questions, especially with regard to age-appropriate dosing, please see your naturopathic doctor. In response to the current concerns, many naturopathic doctors provide remote consultations via Skype or Zoom, as well as in-office visits.
Dr. Emily Habert is a Naturopathic Physician who is passionate about helping her patients find their voice in their health care so that they can truly thrive. A leader in her Naturopathic Medicine practice for 11 years, Dr. Habert is a mother of two and the director of Aspire Naturopathic Health Centre in North Vancouver.