If My Child Seems To Catch Every Cold That's Going Around, What Can I Do To Help Boost His Or Her Immune System?

Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., Wake Forest

Question: If my child seems to catch every cold that's going around, what can I do to help boost his or her immune system?

Answer:The most important steps parents can take to help minimize their risk of children catching colds are the things that you're already familiar with: good hygiene, covering coughs, decreasing exposure to sick children -- things that your grandmother might've told you, like making sure you get a good night's sleep and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will help your immune system be strong.

There's also increasing evidence that getting enough probiotics -- that is, the healthy bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacter -- on a regular basis can help reduce the risk of colds and other viral infections. There's some evidence from one study that taking echinacea during cold season can help reduce the risk of colds as well. Making sure that your child has enough vitamin D is also very important. Cold season tends to be strongest when sun levels are the lowest and kids tend to have lower vitamin D levels.

So make sure your child's multivitamin contains vitamin D and make sure they play outside for at least 15 minutes a day when the weather's nice to get some of that good sunshine.

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