As parents prepare to once again drop their children off at the school gates after a prolonged period of homeschooling, nerves will run high over kids’ physical and emotional wellbeing. Rosie Greenaway looks at how the industry plans to support them
Picture this: you’re working from home and have been plunged into the deep end of homeschooling while your five-year-old runs rings around you. It was meant to be her first year of school, cut abruptly short when the country locked down to flatten the curve. When you’re not playing teacher you’re juggling deadlines and trying to explain to your child why the world appears to have imploded. Your usual childcare support network is comprised of those who are now shielding. Day in, day out, there’s no reprieve.
While the children of key workers continued to attend school during the pandemic’s peak, the majority of kids spent months staying home, often with limited interaction with friends. Families did the best they could, but it was understandable when a collective sigh of relief rumbled across the country as the news broke that schools would reopen for certain age groups in June, and for all children in September.
But for some parents, that partial return to normality comes with mixed feelings and a fresh set of worries about their kids’ wellbeing – and with the whole educational landscape having shifted to minimize risk, kids themselves may have concerns about how it will feel being back in the classroom.
Concerned parents will want to ensure their little’uns’ immune systems are primed against this year’s biggest story: coronavirus.
According to figures from a 2020 survey conducted by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) 59% of parents give food supplements to their children.
At Wild Oats in Bristol, when the health crisis first hit and people began panic buying immunity products, till transactions showed unusually high demand for certain VMS. “Lots of vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc – those are the things we sold out of, and anything with elderberry in,” says Pam Buckle, the store’s natural remedies department manager. Like in so many shops, echinacea also flew off the shelves for those over the age of 12.
What they’re arming their children against, of course, is the invisible threat of illnesses like COVID-19, as well as the usual seasonal nasties. “There are two main issues uppermost in parents’ minds: building their immunity … making sure they’re as strong as they can be against any viruses that are out there. And the other thing will be anxiety, because there have been a lot of changes – they’re going to be anxious about meeting up with
their friends again in a situation where there are lots of people.”
“We should be considering the psychological wellness of our children … since research states that stress and mood issues can weaken our immunity”
On the physical side of things, Buckle warns against getting too attached to the term ‘immune-boosting’, preferring to focus on how products work in harmony with the body to get its natural defences functioning. “One of my favourite products for children … is beta glucans – an immune modulator. I always try and emphasize when I’m talking to customers that it’s making your immune system work more appropriately rather than boosting it.”
Beta glucans, she says, are the unsung heroes of VMS when it comes to pathogens. “They get your body to work more quickly, recognize viruses more quickly and act on them more quickly. But they would also down-regulate the immune system if it was attacking its own tissue. They’re fantastic.”
Down the hatch
With vitamin D deficiency in sharp scientific focus after links with poor clinical outcomes from COVID-19, the wider public is gaining new and deeper insight into the wide-reaching benefits of the sunshine vitamin. As Buckle points out, the lockdown’s impact on children who haven’t had access to private gardens, public green spaces or beaches has been significant, resulting in lower levels of vitamin D.
Henrietta Norton, nutritional therapist and co-founder of Wild Nutrition, welcomes the increased awareness: “It’s great news that Public Health England has recommended vitamin D supplementation during summer, due to isolation. Children are a risk category for vitamin D deficiency since they need it for healthy bones, teeth and immunity. Isolation at home and restrictions on places to visit outside means many kids won’t get the sun exposure they vitally need – and with vitamin D playing a role in respiratory health, it’s vital their levels are topped up.”
Wild Nutrition produces Bespoke Child Food-Grown Vitamin D in easy-to-swallow cellulose capsules – but for children who stubbornly refuse tablets, Wild Oats has some alternative delivery modes up its sleeve. “There are really easy ways that you can put [deficiency] right: the BetterYou D-Lux sprays for Infant and Junior. It’s just a daily spray, it couldn’t be easier. Or Natures Aid Vitamin D3 Mini Drops you can give from birth, they’re really good for children. They’re easy, they taste nice and kids don’t dread taking them – it’s not a struggle.
“Either of those would be complemented by Natures Aid Immune Plus Mini Drops which have good levels of zinc and vitamin C, as well as antiviral elderberry. My personal favourite for immunity is Cytoplan Kids Immunovite. They’re tiny capsules that can be swallowed or pulled apart and dropped into food or juice, they contain beta glucans, vitamin C, zinc and selenium, so they’re a really nice all-rounder,” says Buckle.
Norton adds that it’s worth not overlooking digestive health in infancy too. “Probiotics are also important to support gut health and the immune system, and since children probably expose themselves to more bugs, ‘armouring’ their microbiome is key. I give my own children our Food-Grown Immune Support, since the dose can be adjusted dependant upon age. This formula features zinc, elderberry and botanical mushrooms and more, to replenish, support and strengthen the immune system at any age.”
As Norton points out, vitamin D also ‘plays a great role in mood and mental health’. With the biggest health crisis in a generation set to trigger an equally severe mental health problem, Young Minds has started a #BeyondTomorrow campaign to limit the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the emotional health of under-25s. According to the charity, 83% of young people report that the pandemic has ‘made their mental health worse’.
“We should be considering the psychological wellness of our children … since research states that stress and mood issues can weaken our immunity,” Norton adds.
To tackle the oft-reported link between anxiety and sleep, Buckle suggests several natural solutions to customers whose children can’t sleep and whose anxiety has been triggered or heightened by the pandemic: “The Jan de Vries Child Essence is really good for anxiety, helping them get to sleep, adjusting to changes, going back to school. For general anxiety around the whole situation I would really recommend that. You can also give A. Vogel Passiflora Complex to children getting anxious about going back to school. Nature’s Plus does [Animal Parade] Mag Kidz which is a cherry flavoured chewable magnesium. That will help sleep and stress. Give it before bedtime; it just calms them down. Or you could give it in the morning if they’re stressed. Viridian does Organic Californian Poppy Tincture which is a gentle sedative for children. It’s liquid so you can put it into juice.”
Before the ‘stay at home’ message came the ‘wash your hands’ message. Luckily for families hoping to spend more time out and about over summer, a raft of new natural hand sanitizers have hit the market as brands like Green People, Pai Skincare, Beauty Kitchen, DAME and Salcura pivot to meet public needs. Buckle says at Wild Oats Bionativa’s Preventiv has sold well, but she’d like to see more sanitizers available in packaging which appeals to children. “Having a nice little bottle for children to take with them is going to be key to getting them to use it.” And when it comes to sharing toys with their friends, she says Bentley Organic has things covered with its Surface and Toy Sanitizer. “It’s alcohol and citrus, so it’ll kill off anything. You spray it onto their toys and play things … because children have always got things in their mouths.”
But while entirely necessary, could such focus on hygiene inadvertently lead to long-term anxiety disorders? “I think we’re probably going to end up with a generation of people with OCD. An omega-3 supplement is going to be good for any child with a tendency towards OCD and anxiety. Omega-3 helps the structure of the brain, the function of the brain, mood and lots of other things. I would certainly be giving a child who is seeming tense omega-3,” Buckle advises.
While much emphasis is placed on what you should give minors to support their physical and emotional wellbeing, Buckle highlights two foods best avoided: sugar and carbohydrates. “We’ve seen that you’re more vulnerable to COVID-19 if you have any tendency to diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity. Diabetics have suffered more than people without blood sugar issues, so I really think it’s important not to indulge children in sugary things and carbohydrates. The baking epidemic has worried me. People are just loading up so much on carbohydrates and sweet things, making cakes for comfort.” The emphasis for children, she says, should be on protein, healthy fats and vegetables – and ‘away from cakes’, which she believes are detrimental.
“As far as lifestyle goes, exercise has so many benefits. Just being outside, surrounded by green is good for our mental health. It creates endorphins. The white blood cells travel around our bodies more easily when you get exercise, so that’s another reason exercise is good for immunity. One of the great things about lockdown is seeing families exercising together outside which they probably would never normally do … that’s been quite heartwarming.”
AQUA Carpatica Kids Still Natural Mineral Water
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Vitamin E Lotion With Calendula
A fragrance free light moisturiser for use all over the body. With natural Vitamin E and Calendula which is valued for its soothing, antiseptic qualities. It is suitable for all skin types, (scars, dry skin, moisturising) and protects against the harmful effects of exposure to sun, wind and environmental pollution. Vitamin E is readily absorbed and helps keep the skin healthy and moisturised. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. No animal ingredients. No lanolin. No added perfume or colour. Not tested on animals. Paraben free.
Children’s RedBerry BioMelts
As children go back to nursery and schools reopen, it is important it ensure that they get the nutritional support they need. Children’s Red Berry BioMelts is a unique all-in-one formula that children will love to take every day! It contains 3 billion multi-strain live bacteria powder, along with 300iu of vitamin D which contributes to the normal function of the immune system in children and is suitable for daily use, all year round.
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For more information www.biocare.co.uk/children
For Healthy Growth & Development
Children need a regular intake of vitamins to help them grow strong and healthy, but kids can be fussy eaters and it can be tough getting them to eat a healthy balanced diet. Junior-vit® a comprehensive balanced formulation, rich in Vitamins and Minerals, especially, B, C, D, Iron Zinc, Copper, and is enriched with trace elements. Junior-vit® provides essential nutrients that children need for optimum growth and development. It is a great tasting tutti-fruity flavour chewable tablet, perfect for those who have difficulty swallowing, Junior-vit® retails at £6.99 for 30 tablets. Contact HealthAid Ltd on 020 8426 3400 for purchase and stockist information or visit www.healthaid.co.uk
Nature’s Answer Sambucus Kids
Nature’s Answer Sambucus Kids offers concentrated extract of black elderberry juice (1862mg) infused with echinacea and astragalus root to support a healthy immune system for children. Gluten and alcohol-free formula, vegetarian and vegan-friendly, no artificial preservatives and with a delicious natural cherry flavour that kids will love. Nature’s Answer are the pioneers of alcohol free and low alcohol liquid herbal extracts and have one of the most comprehensive herbariums in the world. Using carefully-controlled extraction techniques, Nature’s Answer captures the holistic balance of each herb and ensures that this is passed on through the product.
Hope’s Relief Intensive Dry Skin Rescue
Newborns through to adults can be prone to dry skin and eczema, so help your customers find a gentle and effective range that they can trust.
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Natures Aid Mini Drops Iron
Natures Aid Mini Drops Iron is the latest addition to our best-selling range for children under five. Each daily dose provides 10mg Iron, to support a child’s cognitive development, energy production and immunity. With Vitamin C to increase iron absorption, plus B12 and Folic Acid which work with iron to support healthy blood formation.
These drops are unflavoured and can be added to juice or water. They are also 100% sugar free!
Nature Aid award-winning Mini Drops are a natural, healthy alternative to gummies and tablets, with no choking risk, no gelatine and no unhealthy ingredients.
Bio-Kult Infantis is an advanced multi-strain formulation for babies, toddlers and young children. Each easy to use sachet contains seven protected strains of live bacteria, proven to survive the high acidity of the stomach, including two of the most predominant species found in an infant’s gut. The formulation also contains preplex and DHA and EPA which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Infantis also contains Vitamin D3: ‘the sunshine vitamin’ that helps to contribute to the normal function of the immune system and is needed for the normal growth and development of bones in children.
Lamberts® Liquid Imuno-Strength®
Elderberry, Rosehip and Blackcurrant Concentrates
Imuno-Strength® is a tasty natural blend of elderberry, rosehip and blackcurrant concentrates carefully formulated to retain the nutritive properties of the fruits. These three fruits are all exceptionally rich sources of important compounds called flavonoids, including anthocyanidins that are known antioxidants. Naturally sweetened with red grape juice, Imuno-Strength® can be enjoyed straight off the spoon. Recommend to those 5 years and upwards – children love the taste!
Award-winning ABC from Helios Homeopathy contains three homeopathic remedies, Aconite, Belladonna and Chamomilla . This combination has a long history of traditional use to relieve symptoms of teething and minor fevers and earache in children. Being completely natural and without any known side effects, ABC is a safe, gentle alternative for the first aid cupboard. The remedy comes in lactose free, organic sucrose pill form in our easy to use single dose dispenser. For more details of ABC and other remedies from the range covering Injuries; Hay Fever; Sleep and Stress please contact Helios.
CureC™ Liposomal Vitamin C with Quercetin
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