The winter cold and flu season concerns parents every year, but the addition of the Coronavirus has increased the attention on immunity boosting tactics for children more than ever! Our pediatric team has compiled their recommendations to help your kids face the winter flu season with maximum immune support.

Sleep

Sleep restores and heals the body. Getting quality, restful sleep is essential to your child’s health and well-being. Sleep directly impacts the immune system; without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following amount of sleep each night for healthy growth and development:

  • Age 4 – 12 months: 12 – 16 hours (including naps)
  • Age 1 – 2 years: 11 – 14 hours (including naps)
  • Age 3 – 5 years: 10 – 13 hours (including naps)
  • Age 6 – 12 years: 9 – 12 hours
  • Age 13 – 18 years: 8 – 10 hours

It’s important to develop bedtime routines with your little ones. Establish a regular bedtime, limit screen time, and reduce end-of-day activities to ensure your child is getting enough restful sleep.

Food

Be sure your child is fueling their body with the right nutrients that will help them fight off any immune invaders. Encourage your child to eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and phytonutrients that supports the immune system. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes and squashes are excellent choices. 

Avoid simple sugars, processed junk food, and sugary juices or sodas (even “diet” sodas). Eating simple sugar (like glucose, refined sugar, and fructose) has been shown to drastically interfere with the ability of white blood cells (the immune cells that attack and destroy invaders) to perform their job for up to 5 hours after ingestion. Replace sugary snacks with fruits that are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, like oranges and blueberries.

** Note: many over-the-counter cough syrups, cough drops, and flu remedies contain sugar. Be mindful of what you are giving your child when their immune system is already compromised.

Keep Their Hands Clean

Keeping your child’s hands clean and keeping germs away from their face is an important immunity defense tactic, especially in the time of COVID. Teach your child to:

  1. Wash their hands frequently.
  2. Use alcohol based hands cleansers frequently (have them all over the house and at school).
  3. Cough into their elbow.
  4. Avoid touching their face with their hands.

Supplements

If your child becomes sick, there are things you can do other than the obvious rest, healthy foods, and fluids. For teens, medicines like Theraflu or Dayquil/Nyquil can help them feel better, but these are not safe for kids younger than teens. Here are a few supplements to stock up on and get started at the first onset of the sniffles:

1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 increases our body’s production of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial compound, to help fight viral and bacterial infections.

It is always best to get your child’s vitamin D levels checked first before supplementing. Recommended daily dosages:

  • 1 year old 1,000 IU 
  • 2 years old 2,000 IU 
  • 3 years old 3,000 IU 
  • 4 years old 4,000 IU
  • 4 years – teens 5,000 IU

2. Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that enhances the biochemical actions of vitamin D, aids in the absorption of vitamin A, helps boost immune defenses, has anti-inflammatory effects, and is an antioxidant. 

Recommended daily dosages:

  • Kids 10mg (half a tablet)
  • Teens 12mg (1 tablet)

Take with food if not tolerating.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that benefits the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells and supporting the energy producing capacity of mitochondria. 

Recommended daily dosage:

  • 100mg / every 2 pounds body weight, divided twice a day

4. Vitamin A

Vitamin A assists immune function by improving white blood cells, natural killers cells, macrophages, and T and B lymphocytes. It has anti-inflammatory effects and iis necessary in the body for detoxification.

Recommended daily dosage:

  • 1 year old 1,000 U
  • 2 years old 2,000 U
  • 3 years old 3,000 U
  • 4 years old 4,000 U
  • 5 years old 5,000 U
  • 6 year old 6,000 U
  • 7 years old 7,000 U
  • 8 years old 8,000 U
  • 9 years old 9,000 U
  • >10 years 10,000U twice daily 

Our Supplement Counter sells these 4 pediatric supplements in an immunity boosting kit. You can order on our Vitamins & Supplements page.

5. Glutathione

Glutathione is a tripeptide that protects cells from damage by oxidation and free radicals. It helps regulate the immune system by stimulating production of interleukin 1 and 2, and helps recycle other antioxidants (like vitamins C and E).

6. Melatonin

Other than it’s role in the sleep-wake cycle, melatonin has other functions in the body, such as acting as antioxidant, boosting the immune system, and helping to balance the stress response. 

Fever Control

If your child becomes sick, properly managing their fever is important. Don’t be afraid of fever! Fever stimulates your child’s immune function to ramp up and fight the invader.

Using a warm bath is a great way to manage a fever without suppressing the immune function. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen both suppress immunity and may make symptoms last longer. Use them only if fever is over 103°F and not responding to a warm bath.

Antibiotics

Avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary. Antibiotics are sometimes a lifesaver (literally), but antibiotics not only wipe out pathogenic bacteria, but deplete the beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome, leading to gut imbalances with serious consequences. 

The CDC estimates that at least 30% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. If a doctor prescribes your child antibiotics, don’t just accept the prescription without asking questions: How necessary are these antibiotics? How likely is it that your child’s natural immunity will take care of the problem? Are there more natural anti-bacterial options?

When To Bring Your Child Into the Doctor

It can be hard to determine when to seek out medical attention for a sick child. Here is a partial list of things to keep an eye on. Bring your child into the clinic is any of these are present:

1. If your child’s breathing rate is elevated, especially when not feverish, this could indicate pneumonia. Using a second hand watch, count your child’s breathing rate. If it is over 50 breaths per minute, we need to check for pneumonia.

** Note: Fever will elevate respiratory rate, so count breaths when their fever is down.

2. If your child is urinating less than once a day and you cannot get fluids down, they may be dehydrated and be in need of an IV.

3. If your child’s fever is over 105°F and not coming down, this may indicate a secondary bacteremia (bacteria in the blood).

4. Most kids are lethargic when they are feverish, but when there is lethargy without fever, it may be indicative of something else. Lethargy may be as benign as muscle aches, but it could be more serious, like meningitis.

** Note: If your child can perk up even for half an hour, this is NOT meningitis. Meningitis gets progressively and rapidly gets worse. There are NO “perk-up” episodes.

Functional Medicine of Idaho is here to partner with you to keep your child healthy. If you would like to work with our pediatric team, click below to start the new patient process. 

Stephanie Ritari, PA-C

Stephanie Ritari is a board-certified Physician Assistant who offers primary care for adults at the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center. She specializes in Internal Medicine and has spent the majority of her career in the field of cardiovascular disorders.

Stephanie has more than 15 years experience as a Physician Assistant in a variety of medical areas, including cardiology and electrophysiology. Holistic practices have long been a part of Stephanie’s lifestyle, with a particular focus on clean living and nutrition. She has embedded functional principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. After watching family members struggle to find answers for their chronic illnesses, Stephanie became more interested in finding ways to take a root cause approach in her own practice. Wanting to provide a proactive, comprehensive, and preventative scope of care for her patients, Stephanie began studying functional medicine. In 2021, she joined Functional Medicine of Idaho, where she is able to provide evidence based, root cause medicine.

Stephanie earned her Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Montana and her masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Rocky Mountain College. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine. 

In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and dog doing outdoor activities including biking, hiking, and skiing. She also loves interior design and traveling, and is hoping to start her own garden in the near future.

Dr. David Musnick, MD, IFMCP

David Musnick is a board-certified medical doctor who offers in-person and telemedicine care from the Functional Medicine of Idaho Eagle clinic. Dr. Musnick offers Functional Medicine, Sports Medicine, Functional Immunology, and Primary Care for adults and teenagers. He specializes in sports medicine, internal medicine, frequency specific microcurrent (FSM), scars, homeopathy, prolotherapy, and low-level laser treatments. 

Dr. Musnick is interested in getting to the root of underlying causes and factors that affect healing, including diet, sleep, exercise, stress, GI health, brain region health, toxins, hormones, infections, and electromagnetic fields (EMF). In medical school, Dr. Musnick spent a year studying nutrition. He has always been interested in the complex interrelationships of different systems of the body. Taking on challenges in the past, he created new treatment programs to heal the brain after concussion, treat chronic pain, arthritis, and tough SIBO and IBS cases. Dr. Musnick wants to help his patients achieve the highest level of health, vitality and function. 

After his internal medicine residency in Seattle, Dr. Musnick completed a fellowship in sports medicine where he became interested in helping patients get back to optimal musculoskeletal health and eventually back to their favorite activities. He quickly learned that many areas of the body were interrelated and started learning more about nutrition, supplements, and other facets of functional medicine. Dr. Musnick has more than 24 years of experience in Functional Medicine and achieved a very high level of both experience and expertise with many health conditions. He is also the author of the book, Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, and helped in writing textbook chapters on arthritis and concussions.

Dr. Musnick received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of California, San Francisco. He is certified through the Institute for Functional Medicine as an IFMCP. He also studied in the French school of Homeopathy. He is uniquely rare in that he teaches Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) and how to integrate it with functional medicine. 

In his spare time, Dr. Musnick enjoys hiking, nature photography, cooking healthy food, mountain biking, and skiing.

IFM Certified Practitioner

Aaron Dykstra, DNP, FNP-C

Aaron Dykstra is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. He offers pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Functional and alternative therapies were a part of Aaron’s life from a young age, and he has implemented these principles into his conventional medicine practice throughout his career. Aaron has more than 8 years of experience in a variety of medical disciplines, including pediatrics, obstetrics, mental health, and nutrition. He has practiced in rural health clinics in California and Oregon. For the last 5 years, Aaron has had a passion for working with children and implementing positive change through the family unit. Aaron joined the Functional Medicine of Idaho Pediatric Team in 2021. His enthusiasm for educating children and parents about living a healthy lifestyle allows him to provide preventative and acute care for infants, children, and adolescents. 

Aaron obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Brigham Young University. He earned both his Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through the University of Arizona. He has obtained a Family Herbalist and Family Nutritionist certifications through The School of Natural Healing by Dr. Christopher. He is currently working towards his certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Aaron spending time with his wife and 5 kids, mountain biking, running, or camping in the backyard. Aaron is a big fan of Master Chef and enjoys cooking.

Nadia Kravchuk, DNP, FNP-C

Nadia Kravchuk is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. She offers functional pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Nadia and her family immigrated to the United States in 1989 where they first settled in Oregon and then moved to Idaho in 2001. Complementary medicine practices were embedded into her lifestyle at a young age, and she has implemented these principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. She has more than 15 years experience in a variety of medical environments, including emergency room, intensive care unit, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family practice, and aesthetics.

Nadia joined Functional Medicine of Idaho so that she can combine functional principles with the foundations of conventional medicine to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. As an avid gardener, beekeeper, and sustainable living enthusiast, she understands the importance and role of optimizing nutrition, sleep, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. She has a passion for pediatric functional medicine and understands that early recognition and interventions can correct imbalances, prevent chronic illness, and improve overall outcomes for children.

Nadia obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Northwest Nazarene University. She earned both her Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through Frontier Nursing University. In 2017, she was the recipient of the HCA Excellence in Nursing Award. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Nadia working on her urban homestead, hiking, foraging, camping, snowboarding, and spending time with her husband and her dog, Wolfy. She is also fluent in both English and Russian.