The human body is incredibly complex. Starting out as a bundle of cells, it undergoes a massive transformation to become a living, breathing entity, capable of running, laughing, learning and loving. And, as a parent, it is your particular joy to see your child go through each and every step of this marvelous journey - the miracle of life unfolding before your very eyes.
During these years, vitamins and minerals play a role in supporting your child's healthy growth and develops.
Perhaps one of the better known vitamins, vitamin C, is important for a range of actions in the body1. Sources of vitamin C include fruits and veggies such as blackcurrants, berries, tomatoes and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons.
Vitamin C is an Antioxidant
Vitamin C's antioxidant quality reduces free radicals formed in the body and helps to reduce free radical damage to body cells. Free radicals may cause damage to cell membranes and other structures while antioxidants are compounds that can neutralise these free radicals, helping to counteract the effects2.
Vitamin C Aids Healthy Bone Growth
Another important function of vitamin C is the role it plays in aiding the healthy growth and development of bones and teeth 7 as well as maintaining healthy teeth and bone health. Helping your child consume adequate amounts of vitamin C during these early years may help to support their healthy bone building. This is particularly relevant for young children, who experience rapid periods of growth.
Vitamin C Supports Skin Health
Vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining collagen formation as well as supports connective tissue health and wound healing7.
Vitamin C Supports Iron Absorption
Vitamin C supports the absorption of dietary iron 3, another nutrient that is important for supporting your child's general health and development.
Vitamin C Supports Immune System Health
When sniffles and snuffles strike, your child's immune system is their inbuilt defense mechanism against germs. One of vitamin C's best-known functions is its role in supporting healthy immune system function and maintaining immune system health.
Did you know that vitamin C may also reduce the duration of a common cold and relieve the severity of common cold symptoms?
Vitamin C Maintains Nervous System Health
The nervous system is the body's communication system, helping us to walk, speak, swallow and learn 8. Vitamin C plays a role in maintaining both your child's nervous system health and healthy nervous system function. It is also important for helping the synthesis of neurotransmitter.
Getting Enough Vitamin C
Did you know that the human body can't manufacture vitamin C itself? Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin which isn't stored within the body, so it's important that you get enough of it every day.
So, how may you help ensure your little one is getting enough vitamin C?
Fresh fruit and veggies are your best bet. Try including more of vitamin C-rich foods in your child's diet - an orange, kiwi, strawberries (any fruit really) as a snack, sprouts and broccoli as part of your delicious dinner1.
If you have a fussy eater in the family or are concerned that your child isn't getting enough vitamin C, pay a visit to your local healthcare professional to discuss your options. They might suggest that, during times when your little one's dietary intake isn't cutting it, supplement containing vitamin C may be beneficial.
Vitamin supplements come in all shapes and sizes - but try not to feel overwhelmed at your choices. Your friendly local pharmacist can help you to find one that will best suit your child's needs.
These medicines may not be right for you. Read the warnings before purchase. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use.
1. Health Direct, February 2018, Vitamin C, https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/vitamin-c
2. Better Health Channel, September 2012, Antioxidants, Victorian State Government, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/antioxidants
3. Scheers N, Sandberg A. Ascorbic acid uptake affects ferritin, Dcytb and Nramp2 expression in Caco-2 cells. European Journal Of Nutrition. 2008. 47 (7). 401-408. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18815723
4. Sorice, A, Guerriero, E, Capone, F, Colonna, G, Castello, G, Costantini, S, Ascorbic Acid: Its Role in Immune System and Chronic Inflammation Diseases. Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry. 2014. 14 (5). 1-9. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Giovanni_Colonna/publication/261915305_Ascorbic_Acid_Its_Role_in_Immune_System_and_Chronic_Inflammation_Diseases/links/53ff43260cf236d97848be8d/Ascorbic-Acid-Its-Role-in-Immune-System-and-Chronic-Inflammation-Diseases.pdf
5. Pavlovic, V, Sarac, M. A short overview of vitamin C and selected cells of the immune system. Central European Journal of Medicine. 6 (1). 1-10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227152191_A_short_overview_of_vitamin_C_and_selected_cells_of_the_immune_system
6. Harrison, F, May, J, Vitamin C Function in the Brain: Vital Role of the Ascorbate Transporter (SVCT2). Free Radic Biol Med. 2009. 46(6). 719 - 730. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2649700
7. Iqbal, K, Khan, A, Muzaffar Ali Khan Khattak, M. Biological Significance of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) in Human Health – A Review. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition. 2004. 3 (1). 5-13. https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=pjn.2004.5.13
8. Healthdirect.gov.au. 2019. Nervous System. [online] Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/nervous-system [Accessed 20 March 2020].