Back to School for Kids.

  • This article is part 2 of my “Back to school nutrition and supplement advice” series.  In the first article in the last edition of Free Press I chatted about  
  • Water
  • Probiotics
  • Fish oils

That article is accessible on

  We know how important it is for teachers and students to PREVENT sickness before it occurs.  There are steps and measures we can take to enhance health so for me, it’s a no-brainer to practice these and put them into your every day life.

Healthy students are better learners.

Today, we’ll cover

  • Sleep
  • Physical activity
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Antioxidants

Make sure children get enough sleep
Growing children need sleep…although they will beg to differ with you! It is vital to their mood, behaviour and attention. Children aged 6-13 need about 9-11 hours of sleep a night. To help your children get a good night’s sleep, help instil a regular bedtime routine, ensure the TV, computer, video games and mobile phones are out of your child’s bedroom and that the room is as dark as possible. Essential oils, such as lavender, can help to release tension and allow for relaxation as well.  Improved sleep boosts the immune system in children and adults so equally important for both.

Physical Activity in School
Irish children spend six to eight hours a day at school. That creates many opportunities for students to be physically active, which is important because experts recommend children get 60 minutes of physical activity per day. It is also important for the immune system and mental health. Daily movement can develop lifelong physical good health and prevent illnesses due to inactivity.

Immune System Boosters

The immune system is the body’s defence against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease.

The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body. One of the important cells involved are white blood cells, also called leukocytes, which come in two basic types that combine to seek out and destroy disease-causing organisms or substances.

We all need a strong immune system to fight all viruses, not least Corona virus.  If we lead healthier, active lives then our need for vitamins and supplements is small.  Unfortunately, not every child or adult eats well,  sleeps will or moves their bodies enough.  For those kids that don’t reach their nutrition goals through diet, I will outline the vitamins most important for immune health.

Growing children, especially those who don’t eat a varied diet, sometimes don’t get enough vitamins A and C. It’s also difficult to get enough vitamin D through food alone.

That’s why the Department of Health recommends that all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day.

Vitamin D is only found in a few foods, such as oily fish and eggs. It’s also added to some foods, such as fat spreads and breakfast cereals.

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin. But it’s important to keep your child’s skin safe in the sun.

Children shouldn’t be out in the sun too long in hot weather. Remember to cover up or protect their skin before it turns red or burns.

Young children should still have vitamin drops, even if they get out in the sun.

The Department of Health recommends that:

  • Babies from birth to 1 year of age who are being breastfed should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms (µg) of vitamin D to make sure they get enough. This is whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.
  • Babies fed infant formula shouldn’t be given a vitamin D supplement if they’re having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients.
  • Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10µg of vitamin D.

You can’t read a newspaper now without some new research about how important Vit D is for our immune systems.  

Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3.

Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.

Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and facilitating normal immune system function. Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.

If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D, you’re at risk of developing bone abnormalities such as soft bones (osteomalacia) or fragile bones

Here are three more surprising benefits of vitamin D.

1. Vitamin D fights disease

In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in:

2. Vitamin D reduces depression

Research has shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

In another study of people with fibromyalgia, researchers found vitamin D deficiency was more common in those who were also experiencing anxiety and depression.

 3. Vitamin D boosts weight loss

Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight or prevent heart disease. 

In one study, people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement. The scientists said the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect.

In another study, overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for babies and young children, and some may not be getting enough.

It strengthens their immune system, can help their vision in dim light, and keeps skin healthy.

Good sources of vitamin A include:

  • dairy products
  • fortified fat spreads
  • carrots, sweet potatoes, swede and mangoes
  • dark green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli

Vitamin supplements containing vitamins A and C are recommended for babies and children aged 6 months to 5 years old, unless they’re getting more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula a day.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for your child’s general health and immune system. It can also help their body absorb iron.

Good sources of vitamin C include:

  • oranges
  • kiwi fruit
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • peppers

Healthy eating for children

It’s important for children to eat healthily to make sure they’re getting all the energy and nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.  Of course there are formulations that contain all these vitamins and minerals too. Vivioptal and Pharmaton are hugely popular and effective.  A nice new multi-vitamin now available is Aya crunchy, which kids love to chew. We have so many different types so please ask in Grant’s which product will suit you best.

Seperate from multi vitamins are immune system boosting products. Sambucol is my favourite for kids, while Immunbiotix takes the crown for adults.

Sambucol is based on the immune boosting qualities of natural Black Elderberries. Black Elderberries contain naturally occurring flavonoids (phytonutrients) which are powerful antioxidants. Sambucol’s Immuno Forte Range also contains Vitamin C and Zinc which are well known for their ability to support the immune system.

Sambucol Black Elderberries provide a natural mode of action that works via 3 simultaneous ways. The key active ingredients in Sambucol are natural Black Elderberries, Vitamin C and Zinc. Studies have shown that Black Elderberries are unusually rich in the phytochemicals known as flavonoids and among all fruits, elderberries are one of the most concentrated sources of anthocyanins, a class of flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants to maintain the immune system and protect the body’s cells from harm (and they are responsible for the purple pigmentation of Black Elderberries!). Research has shown that the anthocyanins in Black Elderberry can boost the production of cytokines*, the proteins that act as messengers within the immune system, and thereby serve to enhance the body’s immune response.

Vitamin C is in this product too and it is an antioxidant, which can help to neutralise free radicals in the body and contributes to the protection of cells against oxidative stress. Vitamin C also contributes to the normal function of the immune system, natural energy-yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Zinc is a mineral that’s important to the body in many ways including contributing to the maintenance of the normal function of the immune system. It also contributes to the protection of cells in the body from oxidative stress and it’s in both Sambucol and ImmuneBiotix.

Anyone who knows me, will know that I find ImmuneBiotix unrivalled on the market for it’s unique combination of ingredients to promote a healthy immune defense.  Coupled with positive lifestyle changes as mentioned,  I highly recommend this product for adults.  It contains beta-glucans, probiotics, vit D, Zinc, selenium, copper and aged garlic. My only addition here would be Vit C and omega fats for a perfect combination.

 Once again, Grants Pharmacy would love to welcome you to our pharmacies for the best healthcare advice in a safe environment. Our staff and customers alike are protected with masks and screens for your safety. We are located in St Aidan’s Shopping Centre, beside Pettitts in Wexford, we’re also beside Pettitts in the Duffry, Enniscothy and in Arklow.  You can also find us on Rafter St in Enniscorthy and on the Avenue in Gorey.  We are open 6 days a week from 9am until 6, 6.30 or 7pm depending on the shop and the day!  New customers are always welcome – why not try our friendly service.  You can ask your GP to email your prescription straight to our dispensaries where we will have your medicines ready when you drop in.  Even if you are not one of our regulars, please support your local businesses at this challenging time.  Your towns depend on your custom.  Shop local and keep your towns alive. 053-9123068. FB and IG.