Immune Health Supplements

Immune Health Supplements


What immune health supplements can help keep your immune system at its peak this winter? Many want to know, what is the quick fix, the one pill that will boost the immune system and the truth is, there is not one magic thing that will stop a cold in its tracks or ward off viruses but there are several nutraceuticals and botanicals that have good evidence for use to help modulate the immune response. This is not an exhaustive list but these are some of my favorite immune health supplements and things I keep handy for me and my family during cold and flu season. We don’t take all of them, all of the time but during cold and flu season we tend to be more proactive on the supplement front. As always, it is vitally important that you work with a trained practitioner to know if these are safe for you to take with respect to your health history and current medications. If you are looking for a practitioner and you are located in Colorado, book a call with me today to get your immune system ready to go for the rest of the cold and flu season!

Here are my favorite Immune Health supplements to support the immune system during cold and flu season:

1.  Vitamin D: There seems to be a lot of controversy over vitamin D but I am in favor of making sure there is adequate intake, based on lab values always, with a goal of 50-80ng/ml. I am always surprised at how many people have low Vitamin D levels, even when supplementing with low doses and even here in Sunny Colorado! Vitamin D is an important immunomodulatory hormone that helps to enhance the defense against infection by up-regulating microbial peptides and dampening inflammatory cytokine production. There is a large body of literature looking at vitamin D and COVID19 that shows that optimal blood levels of Vitamin D results in lower rates of SARS-COV2 infection and lower risk of severe infection. Side effects of vitamin D are minimal but labs need to be monitored to ensure calcium does not elevate with higher doses of vitamin D. It is good to take Vitamin D3 with K2 for most people.

2.  Vitamin C: This immune health supplement is probably the most mainstream. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the body as measured by CRP (C-reactive protein), an inflammatory marker. It plays a role in supporting cellular function in the innate and adaptive immune system and regular Vitamin C intake has been shown to shorten the duration of colds and high doses of Vitamin C during acute illness has anti-inflammatory properties to help with recovery. 

3.  Zinc: This nutrient also has shown to reduce the frequency and duration of infections. Evidence suggests that it suppresses viral attachment and replication. Zinc deficiency is common in many people. It is best to start zinc supplementation within 24 hours of symptom onset and it can cause nausea in some individuals so taking it with food can be helpful. 

4.  Quercitin: This food derived flavanol is a great anti-inflammatory botanical. Found in apples, onions, berries, tea, and tomatoes, quercitin helps modulate the histamine response and is helpful in conditions like allergies, asthma and atopic disease. Quercitin has been shown to have antiviral effects against RNA (influenze and SARS-COV-2) and DNA (herpesviruses) viruses by limiting replication of the viruses.

5.  Omega 3s: Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential fatty acids which means they are not created in the body and must be consumed through diet or supplementation. While these aren’t directly immune health supplements they are important.  Two subtypes of essential fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive at high doses. A study from 2013 found that omega 3’s enhance B cell function which help to fight off pathogens. They are also necessary for a healthy cell membrane including the membranes of immune cells, so having adequate levels of omega 3’s promotes proper cell function.

6. Echinacea: This is one of the most well known botanicals immune health supplements. It is a plant that is native to North America and has properties that will increase white blood cell activity, increase natural killer cell number and activity, protects against free radical damage and promotes cellular immunity. It has been shown in mice and human trials to reduce the duration and severity of upper resporatory tract infections if take soon after the onset of symptoms.

7.  Astragalus: This herb has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to enhance vitality, promote wellness and for numerous chronic illnesses. Astragalus contains a number of immune boosting polysaccharides, like glucans. It has antibacterial effects,  antiviral properties and helps prime the innate immune system to respond to pathogens.

8.  Andrographis: Andrographis is another herb that has been used in TCM for hundreds of years. Andrographis has antibacterial, antiviral and antiparasitic effects as well as an ability to stimulate the immune system.  It has been used for centuries to treat upper respiratory tract infections, coughs and sinusitis. This herb is good for treating infection once you begin to feel ill.

9. Bromelain: Was discovered in pineapple stems and has anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) properties. It has evidence for use In trauma, post-operative healing, sinusitis and osteoarthritis. In upper respiratory tract infections, Bromelain works by breaking down proteins found in the mucus which helps to thin out nasal mucus with sinusitis. 

This is not a comprehensive list of all of the wonderful nutraceutical and botanical supplements out there but these are a few of my favorites. By no means, does anyone need to be taking all of these, all of the time but given their low risk they do have a place in my personal routine and in my practice. As I discussed in last week’s blog post (see the link below!), I still believe lifestyle factors play a bigger role in keeping the immune system functioning at its peak. And again, I cannot urge strongly enough, it is critical to work with a practitioner who can tell you what the best regimen would be for you based on your personal history and current medications due to interaction possibilities. If you are located in Colorado and looking to up-level your immune system, book a free introductory call today!

Two of my favorite cold and flu season must haves both by Orthomolecular:

DHist – contains: quercetin, bromelain, stinging nettle, Vitamin C, N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine

Viracid – contains: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Astragalus, Andrographus, European Elder Berry, Echinacea, L-Lysine

Keep in mind, if you are going to purchase immune health supplements or supplements of any kind, you want to make sure they are third party tested and from a reputable company. I utilize Fullscript for all of my supplement needs because they offer practitioner grade, third-party tested supplement brands!

And don’t forget, as we discussed in last week’s blog, lifestyle has an even bigger impact on the immune system than supplements. If you haven’t seen it check it out here: How to Support a Healthy Immune System

Book a Free 15 minute Consultation Below to get your immune system in tip top shape!


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