Winter Immune Support For All Ages

in Health, Immune System, Supplements

Winter is approaching and with the relaxation of public health measures like social distancing and mask-wearing, seasonal viruses including RSV, influenza, Covid-19, and many others are causing rapidly increasing cases of upper and lower respiratory tract infections. In some places, these infections are already overwhelming hospitals.

It makes complete sense that winter immune support is on everyone’s mind right now. This article covers safe and effective immune support for all ages including infants, toddlers, kids, teens, adults, pregnant/lactating moms, and senior citizens.

Natural Immune Support For Infants (Under 12 months)

Upper respiratory tract infections like colds, flus, and RSV are common in babies under 1 year of age. Usually, babies’ immune systems fight off illnesses, and after a few days to a week, everything is back to normal. However, some seasonal illnesses, especially RSV, can develop into serious lung infections. This leads parents to wonder: How can I support my baby’s immune system in the winter?

Immune System Development

Babies are born with antibodies given to them in utero by their mothers. These antibodies protect them while their own immune systems develop. Immune system development is aided by their microbiome, which is optimally seeded during vaginal birth, and by the special nutrition that they get through breastmilk. Babies who are born via cesarean section, formula-fed babies, and babies who have been exposed to antibiotics, may benefit from probiotic supplementation. Nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals, are provided in optimal concentrations by breast milk.

Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels are associated with more serious infections. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended, especially for babies born in the winter months. Breastfed babies can be given 400 IU of vitamin D daily. Formula is usually fortified with vitamin D, which means that formula-fed babies don’t need an additional supplement. Check the label of your baby formula to be sure. 

Should Babies Have Immune-Boosting Supplements?

Dr. Green Mom Breastfeeding for Immune Support

When it comes to a daily immune-boosting supplement for babies, I prefer to wait until they are eating solid food around 4-6 months before starting any supplements. The most important immune booster for babies under a year is breast milk. If breastfeeding isn’t possible, the next best option is donor breast milk. If donor breast milk isn’t available, use a formula with probiotics. 

After babies start eating solid food, consider adding an immune-enhancing supplement, especially if the baby is formula fed, in daycare, frequently sick, or they have school-age siblings who are bringing home all kinds of germs. However, this isn’t necessary for all infants. 

In my practice, I may recommend babies take an immune-enhancing supplement at a younger age if someone in the family is sick. However, if the taste of herbs or other supplements interferes with feeding, I don’t push it. Breastmilk/formula is the top priority for young infants.    

For information about which Dr. Green Mom products that I like best for infants, check out the pdf guide to supplements that is linked at the bottom of this blog article. 

Natural Immune Support For Toddlers 1-3 years

Toddlers are busy and seem to get into everything; in the process, they are developing their immune systems. It’s important to provide toddlers with the nutrients they need to develop their immune systems and to let them experience the world in a controlled way so that their immune systems get stronger without being overwhelmed. 

Strategies To Support The Immune System For Toddlers

Three specific ways to support immune system development: 1) spend a lot of time playing outside and getting dirty; 2) consume a varied diet with plenty of meat, vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, and seeds; 3) support the gut and promptly treat any digestive issues that arise. It’s important to remember that acid-suppressing medications, which are frequently prescribed to young babies and toddlers to treat reflux, weaken the immune system. These medications should be used as a last option. To learn more about how to naturally treat reflux see this article: Natural Treatments For GERD In Kids – Dr. Green Mom.

Nutrient Support For Toddlers’ Immune Systems

Young kids can be notoriously picky when it comes to eating, and some kids will resist a varied diet. If little ones aren’t eating much meat, beef liver capsules are a good addition to their diets because the capsules provide important immune system nutrients including preformed vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and iron. For more information about giving beef liver capsules to your baby, see this article: Beef Liver Capsules Are A Great First Food For Babies – Dr. Green Mom. Carnivore kids that have trouble eating fruits and vegetables may benefit from a multivitamin, vitamin C, and chlorophyll

Probiotics support the immune system as does a regular dose of vitamin D. Playing outside in the sunshine, even in the winter, helps improve the microbiome and vitamin D levels and has many added benefits for metabolism, body composition, fine and gross motor development, and mental health.

Should Toddlers Take Daily Immune Supplements?

Daily immune support supplements may help toddlers resist infections. There are many good options, and in my experience, the best immune support supplements for your family are the ones that your kids are happy to take on a daily basis. Unfortunately, there’s an element of trial and error to this. Also, as many parents know, the tastes of toddlers are fickle! Today’s favorite may be refused in a week. But on the flip side, a formerly “gross” food or supplement may be enjoyed if reintroduced in a month or two.

For information about which Dr. Green Mom products that I like best for toddlers, check out the pdf guide to supplements that is linked at the bottom of this blog article. 

Natural Immune Support For Kids Age 4-12 years

By the time most kids reach school age, their immune systems are strong enough to handle all the usual winter viruses with ease. And if they are in school, they are being exposed to a lot of them! At this age, the goal with immune support is to decrease the number of times that kids get sick and accelerate healing so that they get well sooner. 

Nutrient Support For Kids’ Immune Systems

For some kids, the pickiness of toddlerhood may carry over into childhood and even the tween years. Though a varied, balanced diet is ideal, it might not always be possible. Filling in nutrient gaps with vitamins and minerals can help. Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, and zinc are the most important immune nutrients in my experience. 

Probiotic supplementation has been shown to decrease the number of upper respiratory tract infections and likely speeds healing. Vitamin D is also important for the immune system. Please remember that vitamin D from the sun is superior and time spent outside has more benefits for health than simply the creation of vitamin D. 

Dr. Green Mom Parent Child Communication

Sleep & Stress Management Support Kids’ Immune Systems

Sleep and stress are underappreciated factors in immune system health. Today, school-age kids are under a lot of stress. Keep the lines of communication open, prioritize good sleep, and watch for signs of anxiety. Read more about stress reduction for kids: Stress Relief For Kids – Dr. Green Mom.

As with younger kids, the best daily immune support for older kids is the one that they are happiest to take every day. Read reviews, get advice from friends, and ask kids for input into the types of immune support they are willing to take. 

For information about which Dr. Green Mom products that I like best for kids, check out the pdf guide to supplements that is linked at the bottom of this blog article. 

Natural Immune Support For Ages 13+

The most important natural immune supports for teens and adults are stress management, good nutrition/digestion, healthy activity levels, and optimal sleep. If those factors are optimal, then supplementation just makes things that much better. 

However, if stress is high, digestion is troubled, and/or sleep deprivation is occurring, then immune system supplements may be much more important, as is treating the root lifestyle issues. 

The good news is that many supplements can provide benefits in more than one area.

Immune support protocols for teens and adults should primarily focus on supporting digestion, nutrition, sleep, and stress. As a secondary consideration, protocols should focus on adding immune-supporting nutrients and herbs. 

For information about which Dr. Green Mom products that I like best for teens and adults, check out the pdf guide to supplements that is linked at the bottom of this blog article. 

Natural Immune Support For Pregnant Mothers

Immune support is very important during pregnancy because infections can impact both you and your unborn baby. Pregnancy is also a time when immune function is weaker, as pregnant women have been observed to be more susceptible to many kinds of upper respiratory tract viruses

The foundation of all my natural immune support protocols for pregnant mothers is a high-quality multivitamin, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, and a multistrain probiotic. Additional vitamin D supplementation may be indicated based on blood test levels. Research shows that these supplements are beneficial for mom and baby. 

Food-based nutritional interventions also have positive benefits for the immune system. For example, research has shown that consuming more fruits and vegetables during pregnancy decreases the risk of upper respiratory tract infection. Aim for 8+ servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Many immune-enhancing herbs and spices are commonly consumed during pregnancy by people around the world. These immune-enhancing foods include oregano, garlic, basil, cinnamon, ginger, and many medicinal and culinary mushrooms. While it isn’t advised to take massive quantities of these herbs while pregnant, consuming the amounts typically found in food may improve the immune response.   

For information about which Dr. Green Mom products that I like best for pregnant moms, check out the pdf guide to supplements that is linked at the bottom of this blog article. 

Natural Immune Support For Breastfeeding Mothers

Breastfeeding mothers go through the miraculous process of creating a human, and then they create the most nutritionally perfect food on the planet: breast milk. Just typing this, I’m struck again by the wonder of it! But there’s also the intense exhaustion and depletion of it all to contend with. Exhaustion and depletion are the root causes that need to be focused on when creating an immune support protocol for breastfeeding women. 

In my clinical practice, I usually recommend that breastfeeding mothers continue to take their prenatal multivitamin, omega-3 supplement, and probiotic for at least 6 months postpartum. Many new moms also find beef liver supplements give them a good nutrient and energy boost.

Of course, it goes without saying that eating well, exercising, spending time outside, getting sleep, and managing stress are important for the immune system. But as a mom myself, I know that keeping up with this level of self-care is daunting, especially in the early days of motherhood. My best recommendation for fellow moms is just to do your best, be gentle with yourself, and take each day as it comes. 

Any immune-enhancing supplements taken at this time should be nutritive (meaning they contain high levels of nutrients), safe if passed through breast milk, and energizing. Medicinal mushrooms check all these boxes and they are my favorite immune enhancer for breastfeeding moms. 

For information about which Dr. Green Mom products that I like best for breastfeeding moms, check out the pdf guide to supplements that is linked at the bottom of this blog article. 

Natural Immune Support For The Elderly 

Dr. Green Mom is focused mostly on natural healthcare for moms and kids, but I know that I have many lovely grandparents in my community as well as many people who look after the health needs of their kids and their elderly parents. This means I’ve gotten some questions about immune support for older adults. 

Dr. Green Mom Elderly and Caregiver

The most important factors to consider in this population are 1) medication-induced nutrient depletion and 2) weak digestion. Medication-induced nutrient depletions can be checked on a website called: Mytavin. Weak digestion can be bolstered with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and/or bitter herbs. 

A solid multivitamin, omega-3 fatty acid supplement, and/or beef liver capsules can help correct nutrient deficiencies. Targeted vitamin and mineral supplementation based on medication-induced nutrient depletion and/or symptoms may be a good idea. My favorite herbal immune support products for this age group are those that improve vitality and immunity. Reishi, ginseng, and rhodiola are all great.  However, both supplemental nutrients and herbs can interact with medication, so supplements should be run by both a healthcare provider and a pharmacist.  

Older adults who have strong digestion and who aren’t on medication can benefit from all the information found in the above section on natural immune support for ages 13+.

Summary

Good nutrition, a healthy microbiome, sleep, exercise, stress management, and time spent outside are the foundation of good health in general and good immune health in particular. When any of these factors are compromised, it is important to address them in order to maintain strong immunity. Supplemental nutrients and immune-enhancing herbs can give the immune system an added boost through the winter months. 

Dr. Green Mom’s Guide to Immune Supplements

For the Winter Immune Support Quick Reference –

  1. PDF: CLICK ME!
  2. Read like a book: CLICK ME!

 

References:

Guo, H., Xiang, X., Lin, X., Wang, Q., Qin, S., Lu, X., Xu, J., Fang, Y., Liu, Y., Cui, J., & Li, Z. (2022). Oropharyngeal Probiotic ENT-K12 as an Effective Dietary Intervention for Children With Recurrent Respiratory Tract Infections During Cold Season. Frontiers in nutrition, 9, 900448. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.900448

Zhao, Y., Dong, B. R., & Hao, Q. (2022). Probiotics for preventing acute upper respiratory tract infections. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 8(8), CD006895. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD006895.pub4

Mullish, B. H., Marchesi, J. R., McDonald, J. A. K., Pass, D. A., Masetti, G., Michael, D. R., Plummer, S., Jack, A. A., Davies, T. S., Hughes, T. R., & Wang, D. (2021). Probiotics reduce self-reported symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in overweight and obese adults: should we be considering probiotics during viral pandemics?. Gut microbes, 13(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2021.1900997

Shahbazi, R., Yasavoli-Sharahi, H., Alsadi, N., Ismail, N., & Matar, C. (2020). Probiotics in Treatment of Viral Respiratory Infections and Neuroinflammatory Disorders. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(21), 4891. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25214891

Shi, H. Y., Zhu, X., Li, W. L., Mak, J. W. Y., Wong, S. H., Zhu, S. T., Guo, S. L., Chan, F. K. L., Zhang, S. T., & Ng, S. C. (2021). Modulation of gut microbiota protects against viral respiratory tract infections: a systematic review of animal and clinical studies. European journal of nutrition, 60(8), 4151–4174. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-021-02519-x

Panossian, A., & Brendler, T. (2020). The Role of Adaptogens in Prophylaxis and Treatment of Viral Respiratory Infections. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 13(9), 236. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph13090236

Zhang, S., Zhang, J. J., Zhao, Y. M., Fei, W. T., Wang, L. Y., & Wang, C. (2020). Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica, 45(5), 978–983. https://doi.org/10.19540/j.cnki.cjcmm.20191017.402

Li, L., & Werler, M. M. (2010). Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of upper respiratory tract infection in pregnant women. Public health nutrition, 13(2), 276–282. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009990590

Xia, Y. Q., Zhao, K. N., Zhao, A. D., Zhu, J. Z., Hong, H. F., Wang, Y. L., & Li, S. H. (2019). Associations of maternal upper respiratory tract infection/influenza during early pregnancy with congenital heart disease in offspring: evidence from a case-control study and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 19(1), 277. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12872-019-1206-0

Parker, S. E., Lijewski, V. A., Janulewicz, P. A., Collett, B. R., Speltz, M. L., & Werler, M. M. (2016). Upper respiratory infection during pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes among offspring. Neurotoxicology and teratology, 57, 54–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2016.06.007

Liu, H., Wang, L. L., Zhao, S. J., Kwak-Kim, J., Mor, G., & Liao, A. H. (2020). Why are pregnant women susceptible to COVID-19? An immunological viewpoint. Journal of reproductive immunology, 139, 103122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jri.2020.103122

Stiller-Timor, L., Levy, A., Holcberg, G., & Sheiner, E. (2010). Upper respiratory tract infection during pregnancy: is it associated with adverse perinatal outcome?. American journal of perinatology, 27(8), 619–624. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0030-1249364

Christensen, N., Søndergaard, J., Fisker, N., & Christesen, H. T. (2017). Infant Respiratory Tract Infections or Wheeze and Maternal Vitamin D in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. The Pediatric infectious disease journal, 36(4), 384–391. https://doi.org/10.1097/INF.0000000000001452

Zhang, Y., Zhang, G., & Ling, J. (2022). Medicinal Fungi with Antiviral Effect. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 27(14), 4457. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27144457

Döring, K., Langeder, J., Duwe, S., Tahir, A., Grienke, U., Rollinger, J. M., & Schmidtke, M. (2022). Insights into the direct anti-influenza virus mode of action of Rhodiola rosea. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 96, 153895. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2021.153895

Ratan, Z. A., Youn, S. H., Kwak, Y. S., Han, C. K., Haidere, M. F., Kim, J. K., Min, H., Jung, Y. J., Hosseinzadeh, H., Hyun, S. H., & Cho, J. Y. (2021). Adaptogenic effects of Panax ginseng on modulation of immune functions. Journal of ginseng research, 45(1), 32–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jgr.2020.09.004

Martín-Peláez, S., Cano-Ibáñez, N., Pinto-Gallardo, M., & Amezcua-Prieto, C. (2022). The Impact of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics during Pregnancy or Lactation on the Intestinal Microbiota of Children Born by Cesarean Section: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 14(2), 341. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14020341

Recommended Products

OUR PRODUCTS

Trusted by Moms Everywhere

From foundational guidance to vaccination support, our products are pharmaceutical grade, organic, and scientifically studied to enhance your child’s immune system and neurological system. 

GET FREE ACCESS!

Dr. Ashley Mayer, founder of Dr. Green Mom®, is on a mission to provide you and your family with the tools to live a healthy life TODAY. You deserve quality healthcare information that’s easy to understand and even easier to implement.

Sign up today to get VIP access to her eBooks, health tips, and
up-to-date vaccine information for FREE!

FREE Guide to
Prepare for Vaccines
7 Secrets to
Prevent Sick Kids
Premium
Newsletter

Yes, sign me up for marketing emails from Dr. Ashley. For more information on how we use your information, check out our Privacy Policy. You can change your mind anytime by unsubscribing.

ORDER YOUR VACCINE
STRATEGY GUIDE
TODAY!