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Back to school with As, Bs, and vitamin C

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The kids are bored, and the parents are tired. The backpacks are packed, and the new shoes are bought. Back to school time is upon us. As the kids ease back into the germ pool, the best back to school supply is vitamin C.

The ABCs of a strong immune system are Adequate sleep, exercise, and water; a Balanced diet; and Critical nutritional requirements such as vitamins C and D, often in the form of a supplement. Dietary supplements merely fill the gaps where our normal diet falls short. Ideally, food should be the primary source for all of our nutritional needs, but realistically that’s just not always possible. For children who hate the very sight of a fruit or a vegetable, a daily vitamin is the next best option.

Vitamin C is one of the few vitamins that the body doesn’t generate naturally. Doctors recommend children one to three years old need 15 milligrams of vitamin c daily, while children four to eight need 25 milligrams. Vitamin C is water soluble, so most excess vitamin C exits the body through urine. That’s not to say it’s not possible to consume too much vitamin C, but it would require effort. The maximum tolerable amount of vitamin C for children four to eight is 650 mg per day. A child would need to consume 13 glasses of orange juice or 90 strawberries to exceed the daily limit and experience nausea or diarrhea.

Dietary supplements themselves can become a slippery slope because not every bottled vitamin or dietary supplement is actually good for the body. Some manufacturers use preservatives and artificial ingredients such as sorbitol, aspartame, hydrogenated soybean oil, etc. to improve taste, to prolong shelf life, and to add appealing color. Children who aren’t enticed by a shiny, red apple aren’t going to be excited about a dirt brown pill either. Choose all dietary supplements carefully.

So why bother with vitamin C when hand sanitizer is already on the school supply list? In addition to boosting the immune system and helping the body absorb iron (which carries oxygen through the blood vessels and promotes concentration), vitamin c helps in minimizing the bruises of lugging those heavy supplies to school. Most importantly for new school students, vitamin C helps the body battle stress. When the pressure of making new friends and the worry of “are these new shoes as cool in school as they were in the store” is intense, vitamin C also helps regulate cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.

So, throw a banana in the backpack and tell the kids everyone at Nickelodeon probably eats them at least once a week.

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