Can you take a supplement every day to boost your immunity and keep from catching an infectious disease? If that’s all you do, you might give your immune system a boost from the supplement, but that’s not all you need to do. According to Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, following good health and lifestyle practices is important along with supplements. Think of supplements as their name suggests: adding to your normal health habits and daily healthy routine.
Immune system myths and facts
According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, there are a few myths about the immune system. The first myth is that the more “active” your immune system is, the healthier you are. An overactive immune system isn’t good for your health. It can be related to health conditions and diseases like lupus, diabetes, and arthritis, among many others.
The second myth is that getting large amounts of vitamins or minerals will improve the immune system. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause immune system weakness. These deficiencies can occur because of unhealthy diets, but they can also be a response to aging, stress, and environmental toxins. If you’re deficient in any needed vitamin or mineral, your immune system may be weakened.
Boosting your immune system
Your immune system is complex and researchers don’t understand it completely. As one example, it’s not just medical knowledge but common knowledge that following a healthy lifestyle in general boosts immunity, but no one knows exactly how lifestyle factors improve the immune system. This is why experts like Harvard Health say that “general healthy-living strategies are a good way to give your immune system the upper hand.”
Which micronutrients boost the immune system?
Research does show that certain micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, can support your immune system. One of the best-known micronutrients that can boost immunity is Vitamin C, regarded as an “essential micronutrient for humans,” according to the Journal of Nutrients. Two of Vitamin C’s specific benefits includes supporting your skin’s ability to block infection, and it has shown benefits in treating respiratory and other types of infection.
- Vitamin C is also a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine, and is definitely on the immune-boosting supplement list. Other immune boosting micronutrients include:
- Vitamin D: According to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Vitamin D can reduce the risk of colds and flu, and “should be taken on a regular basis.” Vitamin D is one of the most important immune system strengthening vitamins.
- Vitamin A helps support the body’s ability to fight off infections, especially respiratory infections.
- Zinc can help to reduce the number of infections and can shorten the duration of respiratory infections as long as it’s taken within 24 hours of symptoms.
- Selenium is an antioxidant mineral and immune system booster.
Other supplements that boost the immune system
In addition to vitamins and minerals, some common substances contain ingredients and have a variety of properties that help immune system functioning. They include:
- Garlic: Whether it’s fresh or in the form of supplements, garlic is helpful not only in warding off fictional vampires but also colds and other viral infections.
- Probiotics: Probiotics support a healthy digestive system. These “good bacteria” also help the immune system.
- Mushrooms: Some mushrooms have been researched and show a variety of helpful effects and are known as “medicinal mushrooms.” The varieties include Mane, Maitake, and Reishi.
- Beta-glucans: Human trials have shown that beta-glucans decrease cold and flu symptoms.
- Berberine – Berberine is located in roots, bark, and rhizomes of different plants including goldenseal, Oregon grape species, and goldthread. It has been found to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
- Elderberry: Several studies have shown that elderberry helps to fight off viruses.
- Sulforaphane: This substance comes from vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy. It has been shown to have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Other considerations for supplements:
Don’t defeat the purpose of taking supplements to help your immune system by taking ones with lots of added sugar or other unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients. Gummies can be easy to chew, swallow, and digest, getting the micronutrients into your system, but you also don’t need them to be made from animal products.
If you’re vegan, you obviously want gummies that aren’t made from any animal products. Some people aren’t aware, but gelatin, used in many gummy products, comes from animal collagen. Artificial colors and other ingredients found in traditional vitamins can also cause problems, so you’ll also want to avoid those. Finally, if you’re gluten-sensitive, always look for clearly-labeled gluten-free products.
Evaluating supplements for your needs
Your diet, lifestyle, and personal taste are all important factors for choosing which immune-boosting supplement will be right for you.
- Airborne makes Elderberry flavored gummies that also contain the immune-boosting benefits of elderberry. This gummy has Vitamins C, D, and E, as well as Zinc and Black Elderberry. The gummies are gluten-free and don’t contain artificial sweeteners, although they do contain some sugar.
- Boost’s Premium Elderberry gummies have simple ingredients: Black elderberry, Vitamin C, and Zinc. The gummies use a pectin base and non-GMO ingredients.
- If you’re familiar with organic foods, you know that getting certification is important for product quality and standards. Mary Ruth’s Immunity Gummies are certified organic, non-GMO, Vegan, and use only natural flavors. These gummies have Vitamin C, Elderberry extract, Echinacea, and Zinc. These gummies have cherry flavor since on its own, Elderberry isn’t very sweet, but they also do contain organic cane sugar.
- Rainbow Light’s Counter Attack is a gluten-free and Vegan dietary supplement that includes Vitamin C, Zinc, and an immune blend with Elderfruit extract and numerous other herbal extracts, including Echinacea, yerba santa, and oregano oil.
- Genius Immunity Shield capsules contain Vitamin A, C, and D, along with organic elderberry, selenium, echinacea, and Wellmune beta glucan.
Whether you want a tasty gummy supplement that will give you a daily immune system boost, or would prefer capsules, you can find the right supplements to boost your healthy lifestyle and healthy immune system.