The summer flew by, and somehow the start of yet another school year is just around the corner! As we prepare to get our kids back into classrooms and support their learning at home during this hectic time of year, we can all get overwhelmed and even become more susceptible to illness. But as those to-do lists pile up and the more carefree days of summer slip away, it’s important to focus not only on our kids’ health and mental well-being going into this next season, but ours as well.
Tackling a Stressful Season
Times of transition have always been associated with stress for families, and the many emotional upheavals of the last two years have only amplified this annual trend. In 2021, the Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) conducted a back-to-school study to discover how the pandemic has impacted students. Fifty-nine percent of parents noted recent behavioural changes in their children, such as disrupted sleep patterns, moodiness, and sadness. And although colds and other “bugs” are known to go around at schools, significant health-related anxieties were also reported among many children. For parents, these shared concerns are compounded by recent worries of inflation as we make up fall shopping lists with tighter and tighter budgets. To relieve stress and give your family a health and wellness boost throughout the seasons, consider taking a research-backed supplement.
You’ve likely heard this “sunshine” ingredient praised for its multitude of health benefits. Among its many perks, vitamin D is a great support for immunity, which can help kids combat everyday illnesses and stay in class. But there is a lot more to vitamin D’s impressive profile than just staving off the sniffles!
Supporting Growing Kids, Body and Mind
Vitamin D promotes phosphorus and calcium absorption, which are essential minerals for healthy bone development. Despite all those calls for kids to drink milk for stronger bones, reaching this goal also requires some backup help from vitamin D—without sufficient stores of it, our bodies can only absorb about 10 to 15 percent of dietary calcium and 50 to 60 percent of phosphorus. But what happens when these two minerals are imbalanced? We end up with brittle bones, are at greater risk for developing osteoporosis, and are more prone to fractures. As our kids return to school, there is also the return of many competitive sports and the joys of running, jumping, and playing with other kids. Low vitamin D stores can ultimately put a high price tag on some of this everyday fun, as injuries incurred from “kids being kids” are more likely to take them off the fields and playgrounds for a season or longer.
Beyond its physical benefits, vitamin D has also been linked to mental health, specifically the improved regulation of serotonin and melatonin. Known as the “feel good” chemical, serotonin helps regulate our mood. Having good levels of this chemical can help kids with focus, learning, and decrease mood or stress-related issues that can impact everything from their grades to friendships. While serotonin works to keep spirits up, melatonin (a hormone increased by serotonin) allows us to catch more of those essential Zs. The body is busy at work while we sleep—it repairs itself, retains memories and learning, and reboots energy levels for the next day, making sufficient sleep essential to support kids’ developing brains and mental health.
Stress Less When the Sunshine’s Gone Away
If you are blessed with an always-sunny home address, getting vitamin D and all its stress-relieving benefits is easy—just step outside and let the sun’s rays work their magic! In places like Canada, however, we see a marked dip in the availability of vitamin D as the summer wanes into the darker days of fall and winter. This pattern becomes more alarming if we consider that children will likely have less-than-ideal vitamin D stores throughout the majority of the school year, when their overall health needs to be at its best for optimal learning, socialization, and development.
To account for the seasonal fickleness of the sun, Osteoporosis Canada recommends that we supplement with vitamin D throughout the year. It also identifies vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) as the best supplemental form. Recommended amounts of this vitamin vary across age groups, which is why you may want to look for a product that is crafted specifically for kids, like AOR’s Vitamin D3 Liquid. Made from a sustainable vegan source of D3 (lichen), this supplement delivers lower and more accurate dosages with a dropper. Make the most of its kid-friendly, neutral flavour and consider adding the power of the sunshine vitamin to a variety of your child’s favourite drinks.
Of course, kids aren’t the only ones who need to be in good physical and mental shape for the school year. The back-to-school season may be the start of a new routine, but parents often have to be up-to-speed on everything from meal prep to busy schedules all the way through June. Luckily, the amino acid L-theanine can help.
Stress Relief and Better Sleep
Unsurprisingly, jam-packed schedules and school stressors can lead to minds that never sleep—and while cataloguing to-do lists in our heads at bedtime may seem more efficient than counting sheep, this ultimately takes a toll on our own well-being. According to The National Sleep Foundation, adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep every night, a benchmark which parents can struggle to meet. Research shows a link between sleep deprivation and a decline in positive and responsive parenting, while stress levels climb. None of this is good news when it comes to supporting our kids through the emotional ups and downs of their school days. Conversely, getting more high quality sleep can even have physical health benefits for us, as lower stress levels can help lower our heart rate and blood pressure.
L-theanine has been shown to be a natural and safe sleep aid. Unlike traditional options, it helps us relax without sedative-like side effects—meaning we can stay alert throughout the day when kids most need our support, but unwind with more ease when we need to at bedtime. As we juggle work, daily errands, and a “homework helper” role (which often means hitting the books ourselves!), parents can also enjoy some of L-theanine’s other benefits, such as improved attention, working memory, and executive functioning.
Find Peace of Mind in Hectic Days
The best natural source of L-theanine is found in teas. While we can certainly access some of the benefits of this amino acid by consuming it this way—who doesn’t like a hot cup of tea when the cool weather hits?—findings in a 2011 study might give us pause before rushing to turn on the kettle. It was found that a cup of black tea contains around 24 mg of L-theanine per 200 ml cup, and green tea contains 8 mg; yet most supplement forms of L-theanine recommend taking 200-400 mg per day to tap into its optimal benefits. How many cups of tea is that, you may wonder? 8–16 cups for black tea, and 25–50 for green.
We can applaud anyone’s dedication to drinking tea like it’s a full-time job, but finding a good supplement is likely the better option. That’s where AOR’s Zen Theanine comes in. Made with pure L-theanine, this natural supplement is gluten-free, vegan, and delivers a perfect, single dose of calmness…without unwanted drowsiness. Fast-acting in only 30-40 minutes, this supplement alters brain wave activity to calm racing thoughts, promotes alertness and concentration, balances mood by influencing levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, and counteracts the stress hormone norepinephrine.
Thrive with AOR
We can’t eliminate the inherent stress associated with the return of the school year, but with the right supplements from a trusted natural brand like AOR, the whole family can get a boost of overall better health and wellness.
AOR is working to make our world a better place in other ways too. This August, $1 of every bottle you buy will be donated to BeeCity Canada, which partners with cities, schools, and businesses to protect pollinators. In September, that $1 will go towards Brown Bagging For Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK), a program dedicated to making healthy lunches for kids in need across local communities.
At AOR, our vision is to transform health through natural, personalized, and therapeutic care. We seek to catalyze change and challenge conventions through continuous innovation. For twenty-eight years, it has been our mission to transform scientific research into evidence-based, natural health products that empower people to lead their best lives.