Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

November 23rd, 2020

Winter is beginning in many parts of the country. This is a uniquely different year as winter is associated with fear of COVID and indoor activities. Those realities exist, but we must maintain our eye on all preparation measures for a healthy winter.

What are the winter related concerns for kids?

1) Make sure that they are getting adequate vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin meaning that it stores for a period of time in fat cells.

Generally most people begin to wane in their D levels early in the winter when it is very hard to get adequate D from the sun. I recommend daily supplementation based on blood levels. Vitamin D and K combinations are the best based on current data. Cod liver oil and oily fish are a good source of omega 3 fats and vitamin D. Vitamin D also happens to be very useful for immune enhancement and is protective for COVID19.

2) Stay warm but don't sweat the shorts. Kids often under dress in the winter. The rule of thumb should always be that they bring a coat along to keep warm in case of a chill or sudden change in temperature. Alternatively, I am a huge fan of layering your upper body with Under Armor, Stoic or like clothing for core warmth. With three layers and a thin shell ski jacket, I can handle below zero easily. Gone are the days of thick sweaters. Outdoor Research sells amazingly warm gloves for a reasonable price point.

3) Keep them moving! Cold weather often encourages only indoor sedentary activity. Send them out to play with appropriate clothes and get them active. Play with them outdoors to lead by example. Social distancing is a much easier task to complete outside. Take a weekend hike. Most kids are out of major sports except basketball and wrestling. Family hikes are a great way to bond and exercise together. Check out Crowder Mountain, Grandfather Mountain or Du Pont State Park for amazing hikes.

4) Drink lots of water to stay hydrated in the dry arid winter. Hydrating your mucous membranes with saline sprays will help prevent infections from taking hold in your nose and mouth. Hydration will also prevent the winter nose bleed. If your child suffers from nose bleeds in the winter, consider applying a thin layer of vaseline via a Qtip to the fist 1/2 cm of both nostrils. This can help to protect the friable skin.

6) Sleep adequately based on age needs. Sleep helps maintain a robust immune system to fight off winter viral infections.

7) Moisturize your primary infection barrier, your skin, to prevent drying and increased portals to infection. It is ideal to apply a moisturizer like Eucerin within 3 minutes of drying off after a bath or shower. You may want to do this multiple times a day if you have very dry and xerotic skin.

8) Eat pumpkin seeds, bell peppers and citrus foods to get zinc and vitamin C. Necessary for good immune function.

9) Encourage your kids to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face. Practicing good hand hygiene and infection prevention can make for a happier winter free of illness. Remember that hand washing for 20 seconds is extremely effective at killing pathogens.

10) Teach them about black ice and how to prevent injuries in the icy wonderland. Head injuries are very troublesome for children that consume large amounts of omega 6 fatty acids that come primarily from processed vegetable oil based foods. Concussions and brain inflammation are notably worse in poorly nourished children. Taking appropriate doses of omega 3 fatty acids as fish oil can help to counteract this problem. I love the brand Barleans. Reducing processed food consumption will also have a dramatic benefit over time by eliminating the pro inflammatory O3 fats.


Winter is good,

Dr. M