The Importance of Immunity

child immunityTo finish off our month of children’s nutrition we will explore childhood immunity and important factors to remember in maintain your child’s immune system.
A healthy immune system is vital for children as they are exposed to a plethora of germs. Immunity starts at birth when the mother’s first milk is expressed, for children missing this important step towards a strong immune system supporting immunity takes the forefront in importance.
Building a strong immune system means supplying the body with adequate nutrients and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Some important nutrients include vitamin C and beta carotene (you can read more about the immune system in some of our previous blogs) Furthermore Colostrum supplementation may be beneficial.
Colostrum is the first lacteal secretion produced by the mammary gland of a mother prior to the production of milk. It is an active immune system designed to protect the newborn in their first weeks of life.
It is highly nutritious and is rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-microbial peptides and growth factors. It is also a good source of protein and contains all amino acids, especially glutamine, which has been shown to aid in intestinal cell health (most of our immune system is in our intestines).
Colostrum neutralizes a diverse range of pathogens, replenishes flora and sooths gut inflammation. Rich in immunoglobulins (Ig) IgA and IgG; secretory IgA protects the mucous linings in the body from inflammation and pathogens (such as respiratrory and intestinal tract). IgG protects against toxins, bacteria and viruses.
Colostrum’s high levels of immunoglobulins, lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase colostrum may have potential in supporting host resistance.
Important factors in the diet for children
• 50% of the dietary intake should be carbohydrates
• Calcium
• Iron
• Zinc
Adolescents also have an increased need for protein, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
Common deficiency’s to look out for
• Iron
• Folic acid/folate
• Vitamin A
Points to remember
• Educate your children on healthy eating habits
• Provide a nutritious breakfast
• Avoid soft drink and sugar where possible
• Lead by example with your eating habits

References

An M.J, Cheon J.H, et al (2009) Bovine colostrum inhibits nuclear factor κB–mediated proinflammatory cytokine expression in intestinal epithelial cells. Nutr Res; 29(4): 275-280.

Hurley W.L& Theil P.K (2011) Perspectives on Immunoglobulins in Colostrum and Milk. Nutrients; 3: 442-474.

Ochoaa T.J & Cleary T.G (2009) Effect of lactoferrin on enteric pathogens. Biochimie; 91(1): 30–34.

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