Here we go folks heading into the dreaded cold/flu season and I want nothing more than to provide you valuable tips that will make this season the healthiest for your family!
For families who have a child with Down syndrome this time of year can be even more frightening due to a compromised immune system. Read on to learn how to protect your loved one.
- Vitamin D- The sunshine vitamin which is often blamed for the resurgence of viruses such as the cold and flu in fall/winter months due to lower levels of-you guessed it sunshine. So what to do? I recommend my clients supplement at the very least from October through May, unless you live somewhere tropical.
Here in Connecticut you would have to stand in your bathing suit outside in the winter to receive enough sunlight to manufacture the right level of vitamin D. Hmmm…no thanks!
Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and easy to take. I buy the drops for my kiddos. Another important note I want to make is how much vitamin D to take which will vary greatly person to person. The standard recommendation you would get from the mainstream medical community are much too low. For example, unless we are talking about infants we should not be talking about dosing in hundreds IU, but instead thousands IU. Infants must remain at a daily dose well under 1000 IU or 400IU is typically recommended which I agree with. Young children can take anywhere from 1000 IU-4000 IU and adults 4000 IU to 10,000 IU.
It is very rare to overdose on this vitamin, but can happen to if you are taking a high dose to resolve a deficiency proven in blood work or are an infant. In this case make sure to recheck the blood work on a regular basis. The goal is to have a blood level in the mid to higher range of the standard 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. Web Md recommends 20-50 ng/mL.
I disagree and much prefer the range of 30-100 ng/mL. Based on my experience, you could have borderline vitamin D deficiency health issues such as poor immune function in vitamin D levels at even 25 ng/mL. You should be aiming for 50-80 ng/mL and that is why we need to be dosing much higher than previously thought.
2. Zinc- Another supplement that is difficult to overdose on is zinc. It does, however, need to be in balance with copper. The majority of kids with Down syndrome have low zinc levels and high copper levels. Many multi-mineral supplements use typical biochemistry and add in copper. Our kids with Down syndrome do not have typical biochemistry. I do not recommend adding in additional copper without blood work for a child with Down syndrome. You want to find a supplement with zinc alone or a multi-mineral with no copper which will probably be very difficult to find.
3. Beta Glucan- a new supplement I have added to my family’s and client’s immune-boosting arsenal just in the past couple of years. It’s super safe and highly effective. Beta Glucan is a soluble fiber that works by stimulating the thymus gland. The thymus gland is responsible for maturing T cells which are critical for our immune function.
Does your child with Down syndrome have a thymus gland?
If they had Open Heart Surgery (OHS) like Ava did and it was not discussed then most likely it was removed during surgery. Yes this sucks, but don’t be too discouraged- beta glucan still works even without a thymus and it has really helped Ava’s immune response.
By the way, even if your child didn’t have OHS, children with Down syndrome generally have a small, misshaped thymus gland that doesn’t work as well as thymus glands in the typical population. You can give a very low dose year round or school year round and increase the dose during illness.
4. Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid/Camu Camu- I bet this is not the first time you have heard to use vitamin c to prevent illness, but did you also know that is helps with oxidative stress which is not only higher in children with Down syndrome, but oxidative stress also effects the immune system’s function?
I have listed a couple of different types of vitamin c to give you some options.
Ascorbic acid is probably the most well known and popular vitamin c options. The nice thing about ascorbic acid is it can be buffered to keep it more gentle on the tummy and it allows for higher dosing.
Whether you are dosing for a child or adult you never want to take more than 500mg at a time simply because your body cannot absorb it. So it would be best to split up the doses throughout the day 3-4 times.
Some people don’t like ascorbic acid because it’s processed. I would agree that you want to find a very high quality brand and if that’s still not your thing you can use camu camu instead.
Camu camu is a superfood with more vitamin c than any other whole food. As previously mentioned you will have to take much more than the ascorbic acid dose to get the same amount of vitamin c, but there are additional benefits to taking vitamin c in a whole food form such as other nutrients in the food that will help with immune function and absorption of the vitamin c itself.
Play around with it and find what works for your family. My family uses both ascorbic acid and camu camu. To read more about camu camu’s health benefits check out this article.
5. Elderberry syrup- Oh my! I saved the best for last! You must have been hiding under a rock if you didn’t see somewhere, someone on social media talking about elderberry last couple of years.
This stuff is super powerful and delicious might I add. It has super duper anti-viral properties and I highly encourage you to grab some now before the season gets in swing and then it gets on backorder (this happened last year). You can certainly make your own, but I found a kind I like that adds the benefits of raw honey and apple cider vinegar.
Check out this study done on how elderberry did in fact help treat the flu compared to placebo. If you are afraid of the flu and let’s face it you should at least be aware and proactive about protecting your child from it, EVEN if your child had the flu shot-yes the flu shot is typically only 10% effective, but that is a discussion for another day.
Get some elderberry syrup and get on with your life.
My additional recommendations as always to increase health, focus on whole foods, bone broth, fermented foods, and decrease or eliminate processed foods.
I would love to hear from you! What tricks do you have to keep your family healthy during the cold/flu season?
If you haven’t already grabbed your copy of “The Bliss 21 Club Mama Guide,” created for mom’s who have a child with Down syndrome. Do it now! It’s filled with practical health/wellness advice.
If you have questions about his article or would like to learn more about my services don’t hesitate to send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In abundant health,