Vitamin E levels in the blood of U.S. chil-dren are mark--edly low-er than those of Japa-nese, German, Austrian or Canadian children, sugge-sting that children in the U.S. may as a group suffer from a mild deficien-cy. Healthy chil-dren with lower vitamin E lev-els have impaired immunity on laboratory tes-ting. The immune defects associated with a relative vitamin E deficiency in "healthy" children are the same deficits associ-ated with in-creased mortali-ty in the elderly.
Children with recurrent respiratory infections have lower blood levels of zinc, iron and vitamin A than do children without recurrent infection. Adequate intakes of zinc and iron can be difficult to obtain from food, even when the diet is better than average. For young children I recommend a preventive daily supplement supplying ten milligrams each of zinc and of iron and twenty-five hundred units of vitamin A; adolescents need twice the dose. Because zinc and iron interfere with each other's absorption and because iron causes oxidation of vitamin E, children who are not doing well with a multivitamin/mineral pill should take separate doses of zinc, iron and vitamin E at different times of the day. Zinc is best absorbed on an empty stomach, but may cause nausea. The second best time for giving zinc is with a high protein meal. Iron is best absorbed with a high protein meal and when given with vitamin C. Vitamin E is best absorbed with food; the optimal immune-boosting dose is a hundred milligrams per day for small children and two hundred milligrams a day for adolescents.
Adolescents and children may sometimes develop repeated infections despite a hugienic environ-ment, a regular schedule of rest and exercise, and a diet of high nutri-ent density, appropriately tailored to one's consti-tutional needs, supplemented with EFAs and antioxidants. There are many addi-tional measures which may be taken to stimulate resis-tance. I recommend these frequently to patients in my medical practice and have been impressed with their safety and efficacy for children and adolescents:
(1) Vitamin C, five hundred milligrams per day, increases the activity of white blood cells.
(3) Granular lecithin, one tablespoon a day, has also been shown to improved the activity of white blood cells.
(4) The amino acid dimethylglycine (DMG) has been shown to boost antibody responses to immunization in healthy human volunteers. The dose used was one hundred and twenty milligrams per day.
(5) Immune stimulating herbs may help children overcome acute viral infection. The safest and best-studied are:
Echinacea species, which grow wild across the American mid-west from Wisconsin to Texas. All parts of the Echinacea plant have been used for centu-ries by Native Americans to treat wounds and snake bite. Recent studies on its effects reveal marked stimu-lation of many immune functions, including increased activity of phagocytes. Echinacea is very safe.
The two main species, Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea, are primarily recommended for acute treat-ment (ten to fourteen days) of colds or the flu. The dose needed is at least 900 mg per day, and I prefer Echi-nacea purpurea root to other preparations. Some people with chronic or recurrent infec-tions benefit from taking Echinacea for prolonged periods, especially, during the winter. It may be taken continuously for eight weeks at a time and should be stopped for a week or two between each eight-week period.