How to boost kids’ immune system

Michael Rodgers Obunga

Kids need a balanced diet to boost their immune system, and multivitamins can supplement a good diet to ensure that your kid's immune system gets enough fuel.

Does your child have a strong immune system?

A strong immune system protects your child from infections caused by germs such as viruses, fungi and bacteria. When a child’s immune system is not working correctly, they become more susceptible to flu, cold and other serious illnesses. To prevent this from happening, you need to feed your child foods that help strengthen her immune system.

You can make a meal plan to ensure that your child’s meals always have some amount of immune-supporting food. Don’t forget to include snacks.  If it is not always possible to include such foods in your child’s diet, consider using multivitamins to supplement their diet.

Multivitamins for kids can be in pill form or chewable form.

How your child’s immune system works

Innate immune system

Kids are born with an innate immune system that acts as a rapid response system.  The innate immune system acts as a barrier that prevents microbes from entering your child’s body.  This includes the cornea, the skin and the mucous membrane that lines areas such as the respiratory and digestive tracts.

  • Skin: Your child’s skin is the first line of defense against microbes because it stops these invaders from entering the body.  Even when the skin is cut, blood around the cut area quickly turns solid and blocks microbes from entering. 
  • Cornea: The cornea is a transparent structure within your eye that protects it against infections. It also helps with vision.
  • Mucous membranes: It is a layer of cells that secrete thick sticky fluid (mucus), which works by trapping invading microbes and dust that enter the body through the nose.  The tiny hairs on these cells sweep the trapped microbes and dust up your throat so that you can cough or sneeze them out.
  • Antimicrobial substances: Your child’s body also produces anti-microbial substances such as tears, saliva and stomach acids. Tears and saliva contain enzymes that dissolve some microbes. Your child’s stomach acid destroys many microbes that get into the stomach.

Acquired or adaptive immune system

When your child’s innate immune system fails to stop harmful microbes from entering the body, the acquired immune system is activated. Once activated, the acquired immune system works to destroy the invading microbe. It then retains the memory of that microbe to prevent reinfection if the body is exposed to the same microbe at another time.

The adaptive immune system comprises the cell-mediated immune response and the humoral immune response.

Cell-mediated immune response:  The body produces cells such as T-cells that identify cells infected by microbes and destroy them. The organs that produce microbe fighting cells in the body include the bone marrow, lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, thymus, tonsils, spleen and Speyer’s patches.

Humoral immune response: The acquired immune system contains cells called B lymphocytes, which produce proteins called antibodies.  Antibodies bind themselves to the invading microbes and destroy them. 

Foods that boost your kid’s immune system

Oily fish

Oily fish such as mackerel, herring and fresh tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids.  A study published by the National Institute of Health states that Omega-3 fatty acids help regulate your immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in lower doses of white fish such as coley and haddock. Other sources of omega-3s include vegetable oils, pecans, flaxseeds, green vegetables and hazelnuts.

Fruits and vegetables

Red, yellow and orange-hued fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C and carotenoids. Carotenoids are the organic pigments that produce these bright yellow, orange and red colors in vegetables and fruits. Your child’s body converts carotenoids to vitamin A, which keeps their mucous membranes healthy. 

Studies show that carotenoids also increase the number of immune cells in your body, enhancing the child’s immunity.  On the other hand, vitamin C aids in producing white blood cells called phagocytes and lymphocytes. These white blood cells protect the body from infection.  Foods rich in vitamin C include broccoli, kale, bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, grapefruits and tangerines.


Yogurt is considered a snack, but it also contains probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that keep your child’s digestive system healthy. The good bacteria in yogurt include the Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Studies show that the Lactobacillus acidophilus can reduce diarrhea caused by various diseases while Bifidobacterium bifidum staves off harmful bacteria.

Can multivitamins strengthen your child’s immunity?

Multivitamins are supposed to supplement a healthy diet, not replace it.  With supplements, you can ensure your child gets all the essential nutrients because we often don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.  A child should maintain a healthy diet all year round for it to affect their health positively. Here are some nutrients included in most multivitamins for kids:

  • Zinc:  The body needs zinc to produce immune system cells. These include cells that produce antibodies, which destroy invading microbes.
  • Selenium: Not only does it help enhance immune cell function but also reduces inflammation.  Studies show that it reduces hospitalization for severe viral infections.
  • Folate (VitaminB9):  It is a crucial ingredient needed to produce the body’s cells.  Its main contribution to your immunity is that it helps repair DNA and RNA, which are the genetic material that controls how your cells function. Folic acid is the synthetic version of Folate.
  • Vitamin D: Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it is exposed to sunlight. Since we do not spend enough time in the sunlight, we do not always produce enough vitamin D. Vitamin D prevents autoimmune conditions and strengthens your immune system against infections.
  • Vitamin A:  Organs that support your immune system need enough vitamin A to function properly. It also helps in producing white blood cells that are the prominent soldiers that fight invading microbes.

Best multivitamins that boost your Child’s immunity

Smarty Pants Daily Organic Gummy Kids Multivitamin: available at Amazon

It contains vitamin K2, vitamin B6, vitamin D3, vitamin B12, vitamin E and other immune-strengthening ingredients. The brand Daily Organic also contains probiotics for better gut health. This multivitamin does not use artificial sweeteners or synthetic colors.

Garden of Life MyKind Organics Kids Gummy vitamins: available at iHerb

Kids find these gummies delicious because they are made from organic non-GMO fruits and vegetables such as apples, peaches, carrot juice, oranges and more. It contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K and essential minerals such as zinc, selenium and manganese.

California Gold Nutrition Kid’s Multivitamin Gummies: available at iHerb

California Gold contains vitamin B12, an essential ingredient in producing red blood cells that help the body fight infection. In total, it has more than 15 essential nutrients such as vitamin E and vitamin D2.

L’il Critters Gummy Vites Daily Kids Gummy Multivitamin: available at Amazon

Your kids will love the taste and benefit from the immune-boosting vitamin C and D contained in this supplement. This dairy-free option does not use artificial ingredients.

Nature’s Way Alive Kids Chewable Complete Multivitamin: available at iHerb

Nature’s Way has both orange and berry flavors and is recommended for children over two years old.  It contains immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc.  

Michael Rodgers Obunga is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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