Winter Supplements

It’s cold and flu season again. With both boys in preschool this year, I expect them to bring home their share of germs this winter. While the occasional cold or tummy bug is rather unavoidable, there are some things you can do to help your body deal with the onslaught of germs that bombard us over the fall and winter seasons. I tend to get a little lax about our supplement taking over the spring and summer, but once the weather turns cold and I start watching my friends dropping like flies from this that and the other cold or flu, I redouble my efforts to get some immune boosting nutrition into myself and my kids. My husband is another story. I tell him why he should take them and make them available, but he is an adult and if he chooses to forgo the Fermented Cod Liver oil, that is his choice. Before I go into what my family takes and why, please remember that I am a mom, not a medical professional. This blog is to be used for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please do your own research and use your own good judgment when making decisions on what supplements to include in your family’s regimen.

Here’s what I try to get into myself and my kids every day during the fall and winter months.

Left to right, back to front they are: Emergen-C, Rainbow Light Chewable Nutri-Stars, Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins, Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil Gummy Fish, Natural Factors Double Strength Acidophilus & Bifidus, Nature’s Bounty Chewable Vitamin C, Honey Pickled Garlic Cloves, Blue Ice Liquid Fermented Cod Liver Oil, Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup, and Food Science Mega Probiotic Chewables.

Multi-Vitamins

I use Rainbow Light multivitamins because they are a food based vitamins and much easier to digest and easier for your body to use. Here is some good info on why food based supplements are better than their synthetic counterparts. The boys each get one chewable star. I take 6 of the prenatal vitamins because I am still nursing.

Vitamin C

I drink about 2 packets of Emergen-C a day. The boys each get one chewable vitamin C, unless I suspect a bug coming on, and then I’ll give them two. Both of these products contain synthetic vitamin C, and I am looking for a better natural source. Here is a WebMD article about the many immune boosting benefits of Vitamin C.

Probiotics

The boys each get two chewable probiotics during the winter, again, unless I feel a bug is coming on. Then I might give them 3 or 4. Their chewables contain 2.25 billion organisms/tablet. I take 2 of the Natural Factors, which contain 10 billion organism/pill. If I’m getting sick, I’ll take an extra one. From what I’ve read, it is pretty hard to overdose on probiotics. Your digestive system is a pretty hostile environment before they get to your intestines where they want to set up house keeping, so it’s important to take doses in the billions and hope that about half survive to get to your gut.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil is probably one of the most important items in my arsenal. Almost all cod liver oils have had the naturally occurring vitamins removed and then replaces with synthetic vitamins. From what I understand, Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil is the only brand that does not use this process, and retains all of the naturally occurring vitamins with no synthetic additions. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a ton of really good information on why cod liver oil is such an important supplement. We take it more for the vitamins A and D than for the omega 3’s. The vitamins are very concentrated in this product, so only a very small dose is needed. This is good because it’s a little pricy. If you’re looking to achieve a better omega 6:3 ratio, consider actively decreasing the amount of omega 6 you’re taking in, rather than supplementing with extra omega 3. I got the gummy fish for the boys, but wouldn’t you know they’d rather take the liquid stuff from the oral syringe then eat the gummys. So each of the boys gets 1/2 tsp, and I’m eating the gummy fish. Being a nursing mother, I’m taking 3 a day. The link above also has dosing information and sources.

Garlic!

Alas, I can not get my kids to take garlic, even prepared this way. Last winter when I was pregnant and terrified of the swine flu, but even more terrified of the swine flu vaccine, I was taking about 1 clove of crushed garlic in a spoonful of honey daily. It was horrible. I was sensitive to tastes and smells anyway due to pregnancy, and I almost couldn’t get it down. And then I’d have garlic burps for the rest of the day. No fun. I wish I had heard of this preperation then, because it is much more palatable. Garlic is a powerful antiviral, antibiotic, and immune booster. When Owen came down with a very mild case of the flu last year, I attribute it mostly to the garlic I was taking that I didn’t get it at all. This website has a lot of information about the health benefits of garlic, as well as the how and why if you’re interested in that kind of thing. To make honey pickled garlic, peel a bunch of garlic cloves. Place them in a jar. Pour raw local honey over the garlic to cover. Place a lid on the jar. Put in the fridge and ignore for several days. The honey softens the garlic and takes out all the bite. You end up with a delicious mild clove, and the garlic infused honey is also powerfully healing. I take about two cloves a day, and a spoon full of the honey. I’d take extra if I’m fighting off illness.

Black Elderberry Syrup

Black Elderberry Syrup is the last of my “Big Guns”. I actually only pull this out if someone is sick, or getting sick. Then everyone in the family gets a daily dose until the danger is over. Yes, even Brad. He’ll take it if I bring the spoon to him. Black Elderberries are unusually rich in flavanoids which act as powerful antioxidents and immune boosters. This website has more information than you could possibly hope for about the health benefits of the Black Elderberry.

That’s our winter supplement regimen. It’s not as bad as it looks. The boys love their chewable vitamins, and they don’t get those until they’ve taken their CLO. In addition to immune boosting supplements, it’s important to eat well, drink water, get plenty of sleep, avoid stress, and get out side as often as possible. We do all of these things with varying degrees of success, but we try. What do you do to keep your family healthy through the cold and flu season?

Chicken Soup For a Friend

When a mama gets sick, she can’t call in to work. A full time mom doesn’t have the luxury of going to bed and staying there. And for a lot of full time moms, finances are just tight enough that they wouldn’t dream of asking hubby to stay home from work unless they were being admitted to hospital. So when I discovered that a good friend was down with the flu, and looking after two little ones, one of which was also under the weather, I offered the only help I could: Chicken Soup. This friend of mine is dealing with multiple food reactions in her children, so it’s not very often that I have things on hand that are safe for her family to eat, but Sunday I just happened to have all of the ingredients for chicken soup on hand, ready to go, and allergen free.

The best chicken soup starts with home made chicken broth. I sauteed up some diced veggies, and I happened to have a whole batch of crock pot chicken in the fridge from the day before. They are gluten free, so I have potatoes in the soup in leu of noodles.

Everything into the pot for a good simmer. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little thyme.

Here it is all packaged up and ready for delivery. Sweet heart, I hope you’re feeling better soon!

Chicken Pox

My baby has the chicken pox.
It started with one spot in his diaper area on Friday morning, and has since developed into a full blown head to toe case. He’s doing remarkably well for how miserable he looks. Surprisingly, my three year old does not have them, even though he was exposed at the same time. Yes, that’s right. I’m one of those moms who purposely exposes her kids to diseases in hopes to get them out of the way when they’re young so we don’t have to worry about it later. I’m well aware that there is a vaccine for the chicken pox. So far it is the only vaccine that we have decided to forgo.

Vaccinating kids is a very complex subject with strong feelings on either side of the equation. I believe that, in general, vaccines are a good thing. When my little brother was a baby he almost died from haemophilus influenza type B. There is now a vaccine for this and it has saved many parents from the worry that my parents went through. To me, however, the chicken pox vaccine is a little different. First of all, the chicken pox is a very manageable illness and complications in healthy children with normal immune systems is very rare. Yes it’s a PITA, and the kids are miserable for about a week, but very very few children die from the chicken pox. Secondly, the chicken pox vaccine is a very new one, and not very effective at that. In the history of new vaccines, many get pulled after several years of use on the general population because risks are discovered that weren’t apparent in the development stages due to inadequate testing. I’d rather my kid not be the guinea pig. Also, the chicken pox vaccine is a live virus vaccine. Kids can actually contract the disease from the vaccine, and kids and catch the disease from a child who has been recently vaccinated even if they do not appear sick. And probably my biggest reason for deciding against the chicken pox vaccine is that it is not a lasting immunity like the wild virus. Chicken pox can be a very serious illness to older children, teens, adults, and especially elderly. The extent of the pox is much greater in teens and adults, and the risks of complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis is much higher. I would rather my kids suffer a lesser case as a young child when they won’t remember the ordeal and be set for life then get vaccinated as a child and risk being susceptible as a teen or adult when the risk is much greater.

So now that the little one has successfully contracted the chicken pox (we shared some suckers with a friend who currently had them) I am left trying to comfort a very itchy 14 month old. Sunday and Monday he had a bit of a fever, and really just wanted to snuggle all day. Fevers are a body’s way of combating intruders, in this case the chicken pox virus, so I didn’t treat it with anything other then extra hugs and cuddles. Last night was pretty rough, as he is now quite itchy and had a very hard time falling and staying asleep. To help relieve the itching so we could all get some sleep I did a few different things. First I applied tea tree oil to the spots. Tea tree oil is a very effective anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. While the tea tree oil was setting on his spots I drew a warm bath. I placed about a cup of oatmeal and 1/4 cup of baking soda into a thin cotton dish cloth and tied it shut. I placed this under the running water until the bath was cloudy. Then I popped my kiddo into the tub, and used the oatmeal cloth to sponge all his spots, squeezing the oat milk out all over him. He loved this, and he usually isn’t a big fan of bath time. Then I pulled him out, patted him down, and gave him a fresh clean double thick cloth diaper. The itching was soothed enough that he was able to sleep for several hours. My husband repeated the oatmeal bath in the wee hours of the morning, and we all managed to sleep until 8.

And thus has been our experience so far with the chicken pox. Please remember that I am not a doctor, just a mother who reads too much. It is important that you do your own research on vaccines and include your pediatrician in your decisions.

Namaste