Black Cumin "Seed of Immortality"

LATEST PODCAST EPISODE — LISTEN NOW

The Role of Essential Micronutrients in Children’s Diet Gaps

Key Topics: Immune & Inflammation
April 30, 2022 • 2 min read

Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the proper functioning of the human body. In the 1700s, James Lind proved that scurvy was curable by consuming citrus fruits while crews were out to sea for prolonged periods of time. Over thousands of years, humans struggled to gain access to a consistent and quality food source that could cover the basics of macro- and micronutrient needs. The advent of animal husbandry and communal farming changed this problem forever. However, the world continues to change, and in recent years the developed nations of the world have the opposite problem: caloric excess.

Unfortunately, this caloric change in quantity was not accompanied by quality with respect to the micronutrients in the diet, children included. Thus, many children face problems when it comes to immune health and current dietary trends. The modern diet is often lacking in the critical nutrients necessary for adequate cellular function. A few micronutrients in particular were often found in low serum volumes in a clinic evaluation and during study.1

One of the most important micronutrients for immune health is vitamin D. It is known as the sun hormone due its ability to be synthesized by the skin via direct sun exposure. It is also found in specific foods including mushrooms, dairy products, small oily fish, eggs, and liver. A lack of vitamin D leads to critical defects in immune tolerance, particularly the ability of T regulator cells to downregulate inflammation and avoid auto-reactivity. Vitamin D affects B and T cell activity in innate and adaptive immune responses for pathogen presentation as well as inflammatory dampening post infection.2 The end result of low circulating vitamin D levels is a functional inability to adequately present pathogens for recognition and killing leading to a delayed response and potential worsened infectious outcome coupled to a dysfunctional inflammation resolution phase leading to autoreactivity and allergy.3 Depending on genetic skin pigmentation, 30 minutes of daily sun exposure coupled to the adequate nutritional intake of oily fish, eggs, and mushrooms is a recipe for immune health in a child.

Zinc is a very important mineral found in many plant and animal food sources including meat, eggs, shellfish, legumes, and whole grains. Zinc is a key cofactor component of many cellular interactions including immune cell proliferation and activity of both the innate and adaptive cell lines. Zinc inadequacy leads to alterations in immune cell signaling, lymphocyte production, and phagocytosis.4 These changes make the function of innate immunity, the critical aspect of human child health, weakened to the point of recurrent pathogen susceptibility. Clinical experience notes improvement in infectious disease stamina in children supplemented with zinc.5,6 Mechanistically and via study, there is clear evidence for the recommendation to encourage children to consume sources of zinc such as high quality meat, eggs, shellfish, legumes, and whole grains to maintain immune health.

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, brassica vegetables, and potatoes. Mechanistically, vitamin C is critical to a child’s immune health.7 Vitamin C has the role of stimulating the production and function of neutrophils, lymphocytes, and phagocytes, providing the critical first line of defense against a pathogen innately. The antioxidant effects of vitamin C protect the white blood cells from damage after they destroy pathogens with oxygen radicals.8 The key piece of the vitamin C story is that preferably, children should consume this vitamin via whole food sources and not as sugar-packed juices that compromise immune function through hyperglycemia. The whole food first mentality is key for children’s immune health.

Lastly, vitamin A, like vitamin D, has a critical role; a lack of vitamin A leads to critical defects in immune tolerance, the ability of T regulator cells to downregulate inflammation and avoid auto-reactivity. Preformed vitamin A (retinol) is found in animal products, while fruit and vegetables contain the precursor of vitamin A known as carotenoids. The specific food sources are bright yellow, red, and orange fruits and vegetables, greens like spinach, as well as oily fish like salmon, liver, and dairy products. Vitamin A is responsible for T cell homing and differentiation with a bias towards tolerance and calming of inflammation.9 Focusing a child’s diet on the consumption of varied and brightly colored vegetables and fruits will go a long way toward a vitamin A sufficiency state and healthy immune system.

Did you like this article?

Like
  1. Misra, M., Pacaud, D., Petryk, A., Collett-Solberg, P. F., Kappy, M., & Drug and Therapeutics Committee of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society (2008). Vitamin D deficiency in children and its management: review of current knowledge and recommendations. Pediatrics122(2), 398–417. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2007-1894
  2. Aranow C. (2011). Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research59(6), 881–886. https://doi.org/10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
  3. Yang, C. Y., Leung, P. S., Adamopoulos, I. E., & Gershwin, M. E. (2013). The implication of vitamin D and autoimmunity: a comprehensive review. Clinical reviews in allergy & immunology45(2), 217–226. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12016-013-8361-3
  4. Maares, M., & Haase, H. (2016). Zinc and immunity: An essential interrelation. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics611, 58–65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abb.2016.03.022
  5. Basnet, S., Mathisen, M., & Strand, T. A. (2015). Oral zinc and common childhood infections--An update. Journal of trace elements in medicine and biology : organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS)31, 163–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.05.006
  6. Sazawal, S., Black, R. E., Jalla, S., Mazumdar, S., Sinha, A., & Bhan, M. K. (1998). Zinc supplementation reduces the incidence of acute lower respiratory infections in infants and preschool children: a double-blind, controlled trial. Pediatrics102(1 Pt 1), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.102.1.1
  7. Maggini, S., Wenzlaff, S., & Hornig, D. (2010). Essential role of vitamin C and zinc in child immunity and health. The Journal of international medical research38(2), 386–414. https://doi.org/10.1177/147323001003800203
  8. Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients9(11), 1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211
  9. Raverdeau, M., & Mills, K. H. (2014). Modulation of T cell and innate immune responses by retinoic Acid. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)192(7), 2953–2958. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1303245

Scientifically driven. Education focused. Healing Inspired.

Subscribe to Insights

Receive clinically driven nutrition insights you can trust.

Newsletter Signup

Name(Required)
Animated Newsletter WM

Join Our Community to Read Further

This is a premium article created for our Healthcare Practitioner readers. Create a free account to continue reading and gain full access.

Dismiss

signup-logo

WholisticMatters offers health care practitioners and nutrition enthusiasts alike the opportunity to create a free profile for access to site features like bookmarking. Enjoying an article you are reading or a video you are watching? Save it to come back to later! Sign up in seconds for continuous access to all that WholisticMatters has to offer.

WholisticMatters also offers health care practitioners who create a free user profile access to exclusive content and tools to utilize in clinical practice. Articles, tools, and downloads created specifically for practitioners to use in their office for better patient education in clinical nutrition and health. Sign up today with your email and credentials so we can confirm you as a health care practitioner, and you are free to peruse the resources unique to you and your colleagues in health.

close

Create Your Account:

show-pass Please use 8 or more characters with a mix of letters, numbers & symbols
signup-logo
close

Create a free account to use our great bookmarking tool

Once your account is created, you'll be able to save and organize what matters to you!

Already have an Account? Login Here


Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.
close

Are you a Healthcare Professional? Sign Up For Free Access!

We'll verify your credentials and get you access to our great interactive tools.

Already have an Account? Login Here


Click 'Sign Up' above to accept Wholistic Matters's Terms of Service & Privacy Policy.

For more information on how to support a healthy immune system for all ages, contact a nutrition support specialist.

Are you a healthcare practitioner?(Required)

No Thanks