MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Le Bonheur's emergency room is seeing nearly 50 children with RSV or the flu. Some experts shared how parents can keep their children safe and healthy.
Alisha Parker, a dietician, said colorful food like asparagus, apples and strawberries are the key to keeping your kids’ immune systems as strong as possible.
“Especially with the kids – color. So proteins, carbohydrates, fat and color,” Parker said. “Sometimes, we’re not gonna get them to eat a ton of vegetables. I wouldn’t say it’s the most popular item that folks go for, but making sure there’s a variety of colors because a variety of colors do different things.”
Key nutrients in these vegetables play a major role in how severe your child’s symptoms may be if they get sick with the flu or RSV.
“When we think about supplements especially if we think about omega 3s, or vitamin C and zinc, those are gonna be more of our antioxidants so helping fight with inflammation,” Parker said.
But they’re called supplements for a reason – they’re supplemental to a balanced diet and taking care of yourself.
“Supplements can always help support the immune response and maybe help support the immune system but they all have to work together. If we’re lacking in sleep or lacking in physical activity, supplements just can’t make up for that,” Parker said.
While these can be beneficial for children who are picky eaters and shy away from fruits and vegetables, supplements aren’t necessary for all children, especially those who are filling their plate or those still taking formula.
“If it’s a baby, if they’re taking formula or breast milk, they are getting the right mix of vitamins and minerals, “Le Bonheur Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease Sandy Arnold said. “You want them to be eating a good diet so if all they’re eating are the sort of typical toddler carbs like macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, then they’re not getting a good mix of vitamins and minerals and they may need to go on a multivitamin.”
And when parents do resort to multivitamins, it’s important to make sure children are getting the right amount for their bodies.
“The big thing with these supplements, is making sure especially if we’re trying to decide is it for my child or is it for myself – that those are very different things so we don’t want to necessarily give our kids everything we see that we’re giving to ourselves,” Parker said. “They’re gonna have different upper limits that they can have throughout the day.”
The overconsumption of supplements can result in flu-like symptoms similar to if a person is lacking the right immune support. So, it’s important to make sure you’re hitting the daily requirement and not exceeding it as well as keeping your breakfast lunch and dinner plates as colorful as possible.