If it feels like your child is sick too often, you’re not alone! Most parents and caregivers feel that way when kids are small. It takes years for children’s immune systems to fully develop.
That doesn’t mean you have to wait it out and accept every bout of sickness that comes your way! There are many science-backed ways we can strengthen immunity in kids.
In this post, we’ll cover the top tactics for boosting kids’ immunity. You’ll learn what can make a real difference (and where you can worry less).
We know it’s a tough job being the immunity captain for your kid! So, we’ve kept this focused on the essentials, so you can focus on what matters most.
Kids need a nutrient-dense diet for strong immunity
Every cell in our bodies benefits from a diet that’s high in nutrients, including immune cells. Nutrition feeds those immune cells so they can fight against a variety of threats.
High-quality nutrition has been shown to boost kids’ immunity year-round, especially when more germs are lingering during cold and flu seasons.
But what nutrition do kids need for immunity?
An immune-supportive diet is rich in colorful fruits and veggies. The less processed, the better! That’s because whole foods deliver the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, healthy fats and amino acids that your kid’s immune system needs.
So, encourage your kid to eat the full spectrum of produce to keep sick days at bay. Remind them to “eat the rainbow,” which is a fun idea a lot of kids love.
Also, incorporate lean proteins (including legumes) and healthy fats (like nuts, salmon and avocados). If your kids eat dairy, make it low-sugar. We know kids love their carbs, but refined foods don’t support a healthy immune system, so steer them toward whole grains instead.
Got a picky eater? You can try sneaking nutrients into smoothies, sauces and more.
To make sure their nutritional bases are covered, consider giving your kiddos a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement formulated for daily immune support.
How to strengthen a child’s immune system with specific nutrients
Curious about what nutrients make the most difference in kids’ immunity?
Several vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients play pivotal roles in supporting and enhancing the immune system. These nutrients aid in the development, maintenance, and function of immunity.
No surprise that we’ve listed this first! Vitamin C may be the most famous immunity-boosting superhero.
This powerful antioxidant protects cells from damage by free radicals and stimulates the production and function of white blood cells to fight infections.
Vitamin D is a powerhouse for kids' health, too!
Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D3 plays a vital role in boosting immunity and combating viruses. It’s also crucial for building strong bones and teeth and supports a stable mood.
However, many kids don't get enough from sun exposure alone. (Plus, that much sun exposure isn’t always safe!). To bridge the gap, try boosting your kids’ intake of foods rich in vitamin D, like salmon, eggs, and products that are fortified with this nutrient.
Not sure your kid is getting enough? Try a kids’ vitamin D3 supplement to keep their levels optimal, supporting a strong immune system and overall health.
Vitamin B6 may be the most underrated of the immune-boosting nutrients.
This vitamin is a multitasker known for supporting the brain and nervous system, so kids feel energized during the day, enjoy stable moods, and can sleep at night. One of the little-known jobs of vitamin B6 is to help kids’ bodies fight off germs.
Good sources of vitamin B6 are chicken, certain fish, and green veggies. If you’re worried your kid might not be getting enough B6 to build strong and healthy immunity, try supplementing with Renzo’s Bright & Brainy B6.
Did you know that about 70% of the immune system is in the gut? It’s true! That’s why gut health is critical for immunity, especially in children.
To cultivate a healthy gut, kids need beneficial gut bacteria. These good bacteria help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and immunity, bolstering their defenses against colds and flu.
But where can kids get these good bacteria? From prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are high-fiber foods that feed healthy bacteria. Immune-supportive probiotics are found in yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
You are not alone if your kids turn up their noses at high-fiber and fermented foods! A kid-friendly probiotic supplement can be a tasty and effective alternative.
Research shows that probiotics can be a safe and effective supplement for children. Probiotics can reduce the frequency and severity of gastroenteritis and diarrhoea and also benefit children's health by supporting the developing immune system.
Remember Popeye? He was onto something. Iron is essential for a strong immune system, and a deficiency of iron can definitely drain your child’s ability to fight off colds, flu, and other invaders.
Popeye got his iron from canned spinach, which most of us will never eat! Your kids can get highly-absorbable iron from meat, beans, and fortified cereals.
If you choose to supplement your kid’s intake of iron, make sure you find an absorbable children’s iron that’s easy on little tummies.
Other key nutrients to strengthen immunity in kids
A strong immune system is nourished by a symphony of nutrients and micronutrients, working together to defend little ones from germs everywhere!
Here are some other nutrients that we know can strengthen immunity in kids.
- Vitamin A: This vitamin helps support the first line of defense against infections (skin, mucosal barriers, and the gut). Carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach are great sources!
- Zinc: A flu season must-have, zinc bolsters the immune system's ability to fend off intruders like viruses and bacteria. Sources include beef, chicken, baked beans, and fortified foods.
- Vitamin E: This powerful antioxidant supports and regulates immune system function. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are excellent sources of vitamin E.
- Folate (folic acid): A form of vitamin B9, folate is vital for immune function and new cell formation. Your kids can get folate in leafy greens, beans, and fortified foods.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Anti-inflammatory omega-3s help regulate the immune system. Fish oil, fatty fish, and flaxseed are solid sources.
- Copper: Important for white blood cell production and maintaining immune balance. Sources of copper include seafood, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Selenium: This mineral has antioxidant properties and is essential for immune health. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, fish, sunflower seeds, and meat.
Not sure where to start with nutrition for kids' immunity?
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the sheer range of nutrients your kids should get to support a strong immune system. It’s also completely typical for kids to stay in the “safe zone,” favoring just a few simple foods. (Usually, foods that don’t deliver a lot of nutrition!)
To close those nutritional gaps, try Renzo’s Picky Eater Multi. It’s a melt-in-their-mouth supplement formulated for the pickiest eaters.
Sugar can sap kids’ immunity (so steer clear!)
You already know sugar is a risk for dental health and diabetes. But did you know it could also be the culprit behind your kiddo’s winter sniffles?
“A diet high in processed foods and refined sugars can promote disturbances in the gut microbiome and suppress immunity as a result,” says Dominica Dieffenbach, a Registered Dietitian specializing in pediatrics.
In fact, sugar hinders our body’s ability to fight off viruses. That’s why limiting sugary snacks and drinks while promoting a balanced diet can support immune health.
(Don’t forget to ditch sugar in your kids’ supplements, too! Gummy vitamins can be a sneaky source of sugar.)
Sleep supports strong immune systems
When kids are snoozing, their bodies are busy making infection fighters. If they don't get enough sleep, their immune system might not be as strong, making it easier for them to catch colds or take longer to bounce back when they're sick.
Creating a cozy bedtime routine, cutting down on late-night screen time, and sticking to regular sleep times can help pump up your kids' immune power. Plus, everyone's happier when they're well-rested!
Why kids need exercise to strengthen immunity
When kids exercise, their blood and special immune cells get moving, too, making it easier for their bodies to fight off germs.
Even though kids love to be active, sometimes they end up sitting around too much, like all of us. (We’re looking at you, screens!)
Kids need about 60 minutes of vigorous movement daily like playing at the park, dancing, or kicking a soccer ball. Even though it’s tough to get moving sometimes, remember that your efforts at exercise with your kids will help strengthen their immunity.
Bundling up and getting outside is a great way to stay active during the winter, during peak cold and flu season.
Stress saps kids’ immunity (but you can beat it!)
Like us, kids deal with stress, which can mess with their immune systems. Stress is like kryptonite. When kids are stressed, they’re less resilient in the fight against germs. That's why it's super important to help them manage stress.
Of course, as parents, we’re often stressed, too! Even if we can’t change how hectic life is, we can practice a few stress-management strategies for the sake of our kids.
When tensions are high, stop everything and hug it out! You don’t have to solve all the problems on the spot. You just need to let your kid know they’re loved, no matter what.
Help them shrug off the day's stress by doing whatever makes them giggle. Often, that means hanging out with people they love. Social interactions can help build stronger immunity, and a strong immune system can make kids better at socializing. It’s a win-win!
Germs and kids immunity: balance exposure with prevention
Balance is everything! There’s certainly a balance in strengthening a child’s immune system
We want to keep kids away from too many germs but still give their developing immunity a workout.
Common sense says we should teach kids about handwashing, coughing into elbows, and not sharing food or drinks. After all, it’s almost impossible to develop immunity to the common cold because there are just so many rhinoviruses that cause it! (And most of those variants are new to kids.)
Yet, for the most part, exposure to everyday germs helps kids' immune systems learn and strengthen. So, don’t overstress prevention. Each new exposure builds their immunity.
The same concept applies to vaccines. They're like a training session for the immune system, prepping it to fight the toughest bugs!
Key takeaways on how to strengthen immunity in kids
That brings us to the end of our top tips on how to help your child build a stronger immune system.
Most of the advice comes down to old-fashioned healthy living. Eating a wide range of whole foods, steering clear of sugar, prioritizing sleep and exercise, cutting back on stress, and being balanced in our approach to hygiene…
Yet, simple isn’t easy! It’s hard to keep up with these everyday healthy practices when life is moving fast. Some days your child will get less sleep and more socialization… other days, they’ll get plenty of exercise and plenty of sugar…
That’s ok! Every day doesn’t have to be perfect.
To make it easier, try putting a few healthy routines on auto-pilot. One simple step is to choose supplements formulated for kids with a taste and texture they’ll love. (So you don’t have to remind kids to take their vitamins. They’ll remind you!)
We recommend the Immunity Builder Bundle. It’s packed with the must-have essentials that support strong immunity in kids:
- Invincible Vitamin C (made with elderberry and zinc for extra antioxidant power)
- Dynamite D3 (the sunshine vitamin made with D3 for children)
- Picky Eater Multi (18 essential vitamins and minerals — perfect for picky eaters!)
Try it and let us know how it goes!
And don’t forget to feel proud of your efforts. You’re equipping your child with one of the greatest gifts: a resilient and healthy immune system prepared for the adventures of life.
Keep up the great work!