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Antioxidants for Children’s Immune Health: Protecting Immune Cells

by Boris Teixeira |

The human body is host to a powerful army that defends us every day: the immune system. The immune system’s cells are always “on call”, working hard to fight against infections and diseases that undermine our overall health. While our immune cells protect us against infections, antioxidants protect our immune system against free radicals. 

 

The benefits of antioxidants

Free radicals are substances that are harmful to all healthy cells. While free radicals can be found in processed foods and polluted air and water, they are also produced during infections. Antioxidants can help to protect our immune cells against these free radicals and their damaging effects during infections so that they can continue to function optimally and protect us against disease.

Antioxidants can be naturally made by our bodies, but mostly antioxidants need to be consumed through a balanced and nutrient rich plant-based diet, or from antioxidant supplementation (1,2). Therefore, a healthy intake of antioxidants can contribute to a strong immune system by defending and repairing cells that have been damaged by free radicals. 

Experts suggest that viruses cause the average child between six to eight respiratory infections, such as the common cold, each year, so it is essential that we maintain good antioxidant intake to keep our immune system well oiled. In fact, evidence shows us that antioxidants do improve the function of the immune system and help to better protect us against a virus or bacteria that has caused an infection.

What are the best food sources of antioxidants?

To support their immune system, children should eat a balanced diet that consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. Vitamins A, C, E, and a group of phytonutrients called carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lutein are found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Some foods are worthy of special mention due to their very high antioxidant status including many berries, plums, nuts, and seeds.

 

Rich sources of antioxidants include:

Berries: acai, amla, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, goji berries.

Fruits: guava, olives, dried fruits (apples, apricot, dates, mango), plums, Kakadu plum, pomegranate, and tomatoes.

Grains: barley, buckwheat, millet, and whole wheat. 

Vegetables: artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, chili, kale, red cabbage, spinach, sweet potato and sun-dried tomatoes.

Nuts and seeds: almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. 

Spices and herbs. 

Others: dark chocolate (4).


The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends: 

Age of child

Minimum serves of fruit per day

Minimum serves of vegetables per day

2-3 years

1

2.5

4-8 years

1.5

4.5

9 years +

2

5

(3).

 

Grow Up is an all-in-one kids’ superfood powder that it rich in antioxidants. This daily powder is made from certified organic wholefoods, known for their powerful protective actions. This comprehensive antioxidant blend has been scientifically formulated to contain beneficial pre and probiotics as well as vitamins and minerals essential for normal growth and development. 

 

References:

1. Brambilla D, Mancuso C, Scuderi MR, et al (2008). The role of antioxidant supplement in immune system, neoplastic, and neurodegenerative disorders: a point of view for an assessment of the risk/benefit profile. Nutr J; 7 29. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-29

2. Puertollano MA, Puertollano E, de Cienfuegos GÁ, de Pablo MA (2011). Dietary antioxidants: immunity and host defense. Curr Top Med Chem; 11(14):1752-66. doi: 10.2174/156802611796235107. PMID: 21506934.

3. Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (2018). Australia’s Health 2018, accessed 1/6/2021, available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/indicators-of-australias-health/fruit-and-vegetable-intake

4. Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, Holte K, et al (2010). The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. Nutr J; 9:3. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-3.

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