Shorter days, cooler nights, and the very first flashes of yellows and reds across a sea of green leaves – these are the signs of the upcoming change of seasons. For many this means back to school – new teachers, new classes and increased exposure to the viruses that cause colds, ear infections and flu. Naturopathic medicine has many safe and effective ways of combating these infections, but the first step is always prevention!
One simple and effective form of prevention is maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D throughout the fall and winter seasons. Unlike most vitamins and minerals that we obtain from our diet, Vitamin D is synthesized via the contact of sunshine on the skin. The combination of less outdoor playtime and use of sunscreen (which blocks Vit D synthesis), have led to widespread deficiency of this important vitamin within pediatric population.
There have now been many studies that have suggested that increased vitamin D levels in children are correlated with lower incidence of upper respiratory infections. One such study, in the medical journal Pediatrics, showed a 50% reduction of upper respiratory infections with only small supplementation of Vitamin D. At our clinic, we often recommend Vitamin D supplementation as a safe and effective component of pediatric wellness. But since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, there is also a concern about taking too much, so it is important to ensure proper dosage based on age and size.
When we talk about prevention, it is of course important to never underestimate the basics. Adequate sleep (9-10 hours for most school age children), plenty of vitamin and mineral rich foods (eat your vegetables!), and regular hand washing go far to maintain an adequate immune defense against microbial invaders. If your child does get sick, remember that naturopathic medicine has many treatment tools to get over common viral infections more rapidly, while reducing overall symptoms. It is always best to establish care with a new patient appointment in the office before acute illnesses start to set in. Our focus on individualized care means that we can take steps to keep each person healthy in the way most appropriate for him or her. Naturopathic medicine is the best way to maintain optimal health and keeping entire families healthy through the entire year is our top priority!