Back to School Wellness

Back to School Wellness

By Kimber Badertscher, Assistant Grocery Manager, Co-op Owner

Here we are, August is nearly over! Summer breaks are over and students and teachers alike are heading back to class. This also means increased exposure to viruses that cause colds and flu. Keeping healthy is the first assignment for a successful school year!

While adopting healthy lifestyle habits, like getting adequate sleep, consuming healthy foods, exercising, and regularly washing your hands, will build the foundation for good health, adding proper supplementation can further support a healthy immune system and help your student and family avoid colds, flu and other illnesses associated with back-to-school.

Here are a few supplements that can help you stay ahead of the class:

Children (and adults too) can be picky eaters. Making sure to get adequate vitamins and minerals through food sources can be challenging. Consuming quality nutritional supplements is an easy way to ensure minimum daily nutrient values are being met. There are many varieties available, including gummies.

Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

Vitamin D
Moving back indoors for school means less vitamin D from sunshine. Research indicates adequate Vitamin D levels are important for many aspects of health—including helping to modulate the immune system. Studies show that individuals with low vitamin D levels have a 36% increased chance of upper respiratory infection. In another study where participants supplemented with 1,200 IU vitamin D daily for four months, the occurrence of influenza A was reduced in Japanese school children by 42%. (Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and can build up in the body. Check with your health care practitioner to determine appropriate dosages.)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have multiple health benefits for children and adults. In addition to supporting heart health and memory, EPA and DHA have been shown to support a healthy immune system. Research suggests that regular supplementation with fish oil, or equivalent vegetarian EPA/DHA supplement, reduces the incidence of illness in children nine to twelve years of age, and decreases the length and severity of illness when they do occur.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that populate a healthy digestive tract and can be found in foods such as yogurt, kefir (check the label for live cultures), and live fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi. Probiotics can also be taken as a supplement. A recent study reported that children three to five years of age who consumed probiotics twice daily for six months had a 53% reduced incidence of fever, a 41% reduced incidence of coughing, and a 28% reduced incidence of a runny nose! Look for products containing multiple strains for best results. There are many varieties available, including gummies and liquids.

Zinc has long been recognized as an important nutrient that helps regulate the immune system. Clinical trials supplementing with zinc in the first 24 hours of the onset of a cold, showed that duration and severity were reduced. Ongoing supplementation with zinc may help to reduce the number of colds and flu experienced.

In addition to these important supplements, the Wellness department at GreenTree Co-op also has products to help manage back-to-school anxiety, improve sleep, and help with the muscle strains and pains that occur with sports. Let us help you have a healthy back-to-school season!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. As always, if you are considering a new supplement, or if you are experiencing an ongoing health issue, you should consult your physician or pharmacist. If you are concerned about your electrolyte balance, please consult your primary care physician.

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