December 18, 2017

We all prepare for the change in weather in different ways. We prep the house for cold snaps. We bring out cold weather gear. We prepare for ski vacations. We get to stop mowing the yard. Kids generally just play. And that is a good thing. 

What are the winter related concerns for kids?

1) Make sure that they are getting adequate vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin meaning that it stores for a period of time in fat cells. Generally most people begin to wane in their D levels early in the winter when it is very hard to get adequate D from the sun. I recommend daily supplementation based on blood levels. Vitamin D and K combinations are the best based on current data. Cod liver oil and oily fish are a good source of omega 3 fats and vitamin D.

2) Stay warm but don't sweat the shorts. Kids often under dress in the winter. The rule of thumb should always be that they bring a coat along to keep warm in case of a chill or sudden change in temperature.

Alternatively, I am a huge fan of layering your upper body with Under Armor, Stoic or like clothing for core warmth. With three layers and a thin shell ski jacket, I can handle below zero easily. Gone are the days of thick sweaters. Outdoor Research sells amazing warm gloves for the price point.

3) Keep them moving! Cold weather often encourages only indoor sedentary activity. Send them out to play with appropriate clothes and get them active. Play with them outdoors to lead by example.

4) Take a weekend hike. Most kids are out of major sports except basketball and wrestling. Family hikes are a great way to bond and exercise together. Check out Crowder Mountain, Grandfather Mountain or Du Pont State Park for amazing hikes.

5) Drink lots of water to stay hydrated in the dry arid winter. Hydrating your mucous membranes with saline sprays will help prevent infections from taking hold in your nose and mouth. Hydration will also prevent the winter nose bleed.

6) Sleep adequately based on age needs. Sleep helps maintain a robust immune system to fight off winter viral infections.

7) Moisturize your primary infection barrier, your skin, to prevent drying and increased portals to infection. It is ideal to apply a moisturizer like Eucerin within 3 minutes of drying off after a bath or shower. You may want to do this multiple times a day of you have very dry and xerotic skin.

8) Eat pumpkin seeds, bell peppers and citrus foods to get zinc and vitamin C. Necessary for good immune function.

9) Encourage your kids to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their face. Practicing good hand hygiene and infection prevention can make for a happier winter free of illness. 

10) Teach them about black ice and how to prevent injuries in the icy wonderland.

Winter is good,

Dr. M