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Dancer struggling to recover after illnesses...vitamins?


hoglett
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Hi everybody my DD is struggling to pick up after one illness after another. Sore throats, flu,cold and most recently a sickness bug. She has long days at school and does lots of dancing, singing etc but she coped well before this bout of bugs. I was wondering if anybody uses vitamin supplements they could recommend. She needs to get her energy levels back. She's 13. Admin please move if this isn't the correct place. Thanks.

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Well this is a difficult one because the views on taking supplements seem to go through fashions with the medical establishment and at the moment they are definitely out of fashion!! They say we don't need them if eating a balanced diet etc and therefore are expensive and unnecessary.

HOWEVER If you just want a personal opinion over some years experience then for me they are worth considering as I'm never sure especially some weeks whether I'm getting a truely balanced diet( and even what is a balanced diet seems to be changing by the week at the moment anyway!!

 

I am an older person ( over 65) so can justify my desire to take them but probably the other age group would be teenagers as they are going through puberty etc as your DD is.

 

I never take high individual doses of vitamins though .....I only use very good quality ( and yes expensive) multi vitamins.

I also take supplements for bones(Doctor advised) and joints which I'm not sure a younger person would need....except perhaps if involved in a lot of strenuous physical activity.....keen sports person or dancer etc.

 

You could go to your doctor and ask for a blood test to see if there is any obvious shortage of a particular vitamin but this can be difficult as they only seem to want to test for individual vitamins deficiency ....not just generally so to speak.

I take the supplements to be as sure as I can be that I've got reasonable amounts in the body.....though for me if I take a pill with more than about 100 mg of vitamin C for example I can clearly see in the loo that some is not being absorbed by the body!!

 

I do have periods when I stop taking all the supplements for a couple of months .....usually around July/August ...but I probably don't stop for long enough to test whether I notice any substantial deterioration in my health!

 

However I rarely get colds/ flu etc ( though have just recovered from a viral coughing bug) and definitely less than most of my friends ...."and I am the ONLY one of my friends group in my age group who still doesn't have a yearly flu injection .....but whether this is due to the vitamin taking or just being luckily genetically disposed to generally good health I don't really know!!

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The problem with many vitamins which are cheaper is that they have very little of anything in them .....the amounts are SO small as to be practically irrelevant .....and so therefore....in my view at any rate....a genuine waste of money.

 

But luckily Boots do sell other than own brand like.... Vitabiotics for example.....whether they do a range aimed at teenagers however I don't know.

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Bassetts do a "soft & chewy" range of multivitamins with two aimed at teens. My dd takes the ones with added EPO.

 

One thing to check is how good your dd is at thorough handwashing with soap and warm water, trying not to touch her face - especially eyes and mouth - if she has been in contact with someone poorly, and using perhaps a little bit of antibac hand sanitiser before eating packed lunch. Probably all sounds obvious but it's surprising how many children (and adults!) aren't very good at remembering to wash their hands thoroughly.

 

Echinacea is a good supplement for winter too. I'm guessing you already get your dd to keep hydrated and get enough sleep.

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I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV, but I can tell you that schools are breeding grounds of all manner of illness. I know I work in one, and I have worked in several in the past. The first school as a grammar school and I was quite frequently down with a dreaded lurgy, especially in the winter. On the plus side, when I left and went back into the general work force, I never got ill. Next I worked in two schools, a secondary and a primary. The primary was terrible - lots of children running about with six foot snoot dangling - they would constantly run into you and you would instinctively use you hands to stop them, with predictable results. Now I work in a six form college - it's better but we staff are still at the mercy of student germs.

 

So what can you do?

  • Wash your hands at every opportunity, using hand sanitizer - I keep a tube in my drawer.
  • Avoid as much contact with people as possible (OK so not exactly practical in your daughters case).
  • Eat well - lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Drink lots of orange juice - I'm a litre a day man.
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Something else which may be worth looking into and considering is Metatone Tonic. Not a multi vitamin, but more of a boost after illness. I used this often when I was much younger and used to get quite run down after picking up most of the illnesses my dds picked up at nursery/school etc.

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Sambucol all the way- it's an elderberry syrup fortified with Vit C : Zinc and minerals with a antivirus action according to their bottle... a friend recommended to my 11 yr dd who always gets Virus flu at this time of year... probably all sugar & placebo but seems to do trick and I have now converted my hypochondriac of a sister( who is a nurse) to it too!

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I would also consider taking her to the GP to get her checked for anaemia  if she has low energy levels. My (non dancing) d developed this in her early teens triggered partly by a massive growth spurt. She took iron plus vitamin c supplements (Spatone liquid filled sachets) for a number of years. Having a good diet goes without saying, but it can be difficult to get enough iron even if you are a broccoli fiend.

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I'm inclined to suggest getting her checked out too. You don't want to be taking iron supplements or high levels of other supplements without cause (the only ones there seem to be evidence for are vitamin D and maybe vitamin C/Zinc), but it's surprisingly easy to have low iron levels as a result of stresses like lots of illness, puberty and lots of exercise. 

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I would get her looked at by the GP too. Taking uneccessary vitamin and mineral supplements is at best a waste of money, and can occasionally be detrimental to health. If she isn't actually deficient in anything, taking extra vitamins won't help her so you'd be wasting your time and money really. And if her diet is not good enough to be providing the necessary vitamins and minerals you need to consider that it might also not be providing enough calories, protein etc either. If that's the case then it would be more beneficial to tackle the diet as a whole. A lot of young dancers seem to rely on a lot of packed meals when dashing between school and classes, and it can be quite hard to get a good enough intake that way. I know my DD went through a phase where she was eating more meals in the car or in the studio waiting room than at home, and I'm sure it was not good for her. Especially as she would only get a salad or sandwich for lunch at school too - not "cool" to have a cooked meal apparently....  Plus it would be sensible to rule out any other underlying problem that might need treatment, so definitely worth a visit to the GP to be on the safe side.

Is she getting enough sleep? I know this can also be an issue as my DD used to burn the candle at both ends - getting up very early to do homework so that she could dance in the evening. A minor illness on top of chronic sleep shortage can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Although your DD will probably react with complete horror to the suggestion, it may be that she needs a period of rest to really get her strength back. Going back to dance or any kind of sport too soon after an illness can be counterproductive as it leaves you prone to injury or another illness if you are not 100%. Highly motivated students are always keen to get back as soon as they physically can, and of course they worry about falling behind, but sometimes a bit longer to fully recharge the batteries works wonders.

Hope she feels better soon.

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Thanks everybody for the brilliant advice.  I am going to have a look at the supplements mentioned and certainly like the sound of the tonics.  She does generally eat well but I completely take on board your comments pups mum about the 'car picnics'! Sleep is also a factor I think.  She's got into a pattern of going to sleep at gone 10pm over Christmas and she's found it really difficult to go to bed at an appropriate time now that term has started for school the next day.  I think that you are absolutely right that this could be the straw that broke the camels back.  Plus I just think that there are so many different bugs around at the minute and she just isn't recovering/allowing her body to recover properly and then she catches another one.  Thanks for the reminder about hand washing!  I have taken this opportunity to have a chat about that one.  Thanks for all of your good wishes - I'll try the self help route and if there's no improvement then I'll take her to get checked at the docs - not looking forward to the prospect of a blood test!  Thanks again.

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Hand washing - if she keeps some of that antibacterial gel spray in her dance bag, she can use it every time she changes shoes, especially if she's having a snack between classes etc. Also, make sure that her water bottle is really clean (my dd's ones tend to develop a bottom-of-the-pond whiff after a while, despite washing out, and she doesn't even notice!!).

 

Vitamins: at this time of year she will definitely need a top-up of vitamin D - dancers are well-known for having deficiencies. The best source is from being out in the fresh air and daylight as much as possible. As others have said, perhaps a visit to the GP to check in case she's anaemic. Apart from that, plenty of fruit and veg, especially those high in vitamin C.

 

And if she's feeling under the weather, she needs to rest - properly rest - a week off dance might be a good idea unless she's got anything vital dance-wise coming up.

 

Let Mother Nature do her thing  :)

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Hand washing - if she keeps some of that antibacterial gel spray in her dance bag, she can use it every time she changes shoes, especially if she's having a snack between classes etc. Also, make sure that her water bottle is really clean (my dd's ones tend to develop a bottom-of-the-pond whiff after a while, despite washing out, and she doesn't even notice!!).

 

 

with my health protection hat on, a word of warning about hand gels. We try and discourage their use as they are not very effective against noro or many of the other small round structured viruses that cause diarrhoea +/or vomiting (the so called 'winter vomiting bugs') so people using them get a false sense of security about cleanliness. We always stress soap and water as the only really effective method (and sufficient time needs to be given - as a guide for effective handwashing you have to sing 'happy birthday' to yourself twice!)

 

Ebug have really good resources on all bugs geared towards different age groups... Often people are unaware at how effective handwashing is at reducing colds and so on, not just bacterial illness...

http://www.e-bug.eu/

 

Plus be vigilant about observing the 48 hour rule for D&V (and nag your friends!)- SOOOO many parents turf their kids back into school the minute they are better - primary schools are improving at enforcing the 48 hour rule but they aren't miracle workers and I have found secondary schools are often trying to balance competing priorities of infection control and school attendance with school attendance winning out (I have heard some attendance officers say shocking things about sending kids in even if they are sick in order not to lose schooling time).

 

Re nutrition I have resorted to protein powder supplements for DS, who simply can't get enough food down him to make up for the level of training. After 2 bouts of food poisoning in December he was noticeably thinner, and portion sizes in Russia aren't huge... Protein shakes made with whole milk have been a life saver....

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the points with regard to  norovirus etc and  gel are pertinent...  the gels are great for bacteria - which is why they got pushed when MRSA was the big thing  ( forgettign that  Staph Aureaus is  native  skin flora   and nonone has dared to a proper  survery of resistant  Staph aureaus  carriage as the figures would be  scary )

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Just to add into the mix, have you thought about the fact that your daughter is starting to enter puberty.  I know that my dd struggled with energy levels for a few months before she started her periods and also caught a number of minor bugs.  Once her periods had started then she was absolutely fine.  I would still advise taking her to your GP to get her checked out though.  Just to be sure.

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I agree with huddsballetmum, I've seen so many students have months of what seems like neverending illnesses, I've sent them home from class, arranged with parents to take time off and seen very little improvement. Then they start their period and everything returns to normal more or less.

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the points with regard to  norovirus etc and  gel are pertinent...  the gels are great for bacteria - which is why they got pushed when MRSA was the big thing  ( forgettign that  Staph Aureaus is  native  skin flora   and nonone has dared to a proper  survery of resistant  Staph aureaus  carriage as the figures would be  scary )

I only suggested hand gel because students are often changing shoes in a hurry between classes, and wouldn't go to wash their hands every single time. Any help is better than none :)

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Just to add into the mix, have you thought about the fact that your daughter is starting to enter puberty.  I know that my dd struggled with energy levels for a few months before she started her periods and also caught a number of minor bugs.  Once her periods had started then she was absolutely fine.  I would still advise taking her to your GP to get her checked out though.  Just to be sure.

A really interesting point that I had only really thought about from the point of view of everything changing/developing etc...  We thought that she had started last month but nothing this month .  It is bound to take its toll isn't it? Thanks for your advice.

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There will always be a place for hand gel as far as I'm concerned. For example, I could not complete a supermarket shop and drive off bebore using it, but a hand wash with soap & water is priority after arriving home. It works wonders IMHO!

 

Surprising the amount of people that ruin everything by putting their fingers in their mouths etc. I dread to think what's going in but then I'm probably a bit OTT because of my job...

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 the theory is that if you use hand gel and then assume your hands are clean, this is worse than not using anything but being aware your hands are not clean. After all if you are only removing a proportion of the potential pathogens and have to act as if your hands are still 'dirty' then what have you gained? plus frequent use of alcohol gel tends to be harder on the skin than soap... 

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 the theory is that if you use hand gel and then assume your hands are clean, this is worse than not using anything but being aware your hands are not clean. After all if you are only removing a proportion of the potential pathogens and have to act as if your hands are still 'dirty' then what have you gained? plus frequent use of alcohol gel tends to be harder on the skin than soap... 

I agree, but how many dancers wash their hands every time they change their shoes/fiddle with plasters etc?

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