Nutrients from real foods play a critical role in your baby’s still-developing immune system. Below are some of the key ones to look for:
Zinc is a key nutrient for the immune system, it’s also one of the essential minerals needed to make proteins and DNA in the body. Your body can’t produce or store it, so you need to get it from food. A zinc deficiency is correlated with increased susceptibility to pneumonia and other infections among children and the elderly.2
Children from 7 months to 3 years of age, need about 3 mg of Zinc per day.1
Where to find it: Beans, nuts, red meat, oysters are all excellent sources.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system and liver function. It has been shown to lower inflammation by lowering oxidative stress and inhibiting the replication of viruses.6
Children 1 to 3 years of age should have about 20 micrograms per day.
Where to find it: Grains, garlic, broccoli, nuts, especially brazil nuts, walnuts, fish, beef
Is one of the most critical nutrients for development. You’ve probably noticed that we often wax poetic about iron’s role in neural development. But it’s also necessary for biochemical reactions for your baby’s immune cells and blood production.3
From 7 to 12 months, babies are recommended to have 11mg of iron per day. From 1 to 3 years, the recommended daily amount is 7mg.
Where to find it: White beans, lentils, spinach (other dark leafy greens), organ meats.
Beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, helps regulate cellular immune responses. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Where to find it: Carrots, apricot, mangoes, spinach, cantaloupe
Well, no surprises here. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is well known for its role in supporting the immune system and cellular function. During infections, vitamin C levels in plasma decreases, as the body uses it to fight infections, which is why it’s important to keep the vitamin C flowing during colds. Bonus: it also helps with the absorption of iron, see above. As an antioxidant it helps neutralize free radicals in the body, helping to keep inflammation in check. Vitamin C should be a part of any parent or caregivers plan for their babies’ coronavirus risk prevention.
Other important antioxidants include glutathione, selenium, and vitamin E.
Where to find it: oranges or insert your favorite citrus fruit, kiwis, bell peppers, broccoli.
You’ll find a healthy dose of vitamin C in our Mango Chia Pudding and Kiwi Chia Pudding.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant. It’s also critical for the normal function of immune cells. T- and B-cell functions are impaired when you don’t have enough vitamin E in your diet. 7
Where to find it: Wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, salmon, kiwi.
Interested in learning more about how you can keep you and your baby healthy this season? See our top tips on staying healthy given the concerns around the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- “Zinc.” Office of Dietary Supplements, 19 December 2019, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
- Barnett, Junaidah B et al. “Low zinc status: a new risk factor for pneumonia in the elderly?.” Nutrition reviews vol. 68,1 (2010): 30-7. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00253.x
- Cherayil, Bobby J. “The role of iron in the immune response to bacterial infection.” Immunologic research vol. 50,1 (2011): 1-9. doi:10.1007/s12026-010-8199-1
- Sgarbanti, Rossella et al. “Intracellular redox state as target for anti-influenza therapy: are antioxidants always effective?.” Current topics in medicinal chemistry vol. 14,22 (2014): 2529-41. doi:10.2174/1568026614666141203125211
- “Iron needs of babies and children.” Paediatrics & child health vol. 12,4 (2007): 333-6. doi:10.1093/pch/12.4.333
- Hoffmann, Peter R, and Marla J Berry. “The influence of selenium on immune responses.” Molecular nutrition & food research vol. 52,11 (2008): 1273-80. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200700330
- Lee, Ga Young, and Sung Nim Han. “The Role of Vitamin E in Immunity.” Nutrients vol. 10,11 1614. 1 Nov. 2018, doi:10.3390/nu10111614