Vitamins, minerals, and herbs are excellent immune boosting supplements. As we’re exposed to more and more invading pathogens, factors like age, a poor diet, and high stress can make it harder for your immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria. The good news is that many of the best supplements for immune health are easy to find, effective, and safe for the whole family.
Let’s dive into the most beneficial immune boosting supplements like vitamin C, quercetin, probiotic supplements, and more to help fight cold and flu symptoms.
Supplements to Boost the Immune System
1. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
N-acetyl cysteine is an amino acid that is used by the body to produce glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that protects immune cells and plays a key role in proper immune function. N-acetyl cysteine can help reduce symptoms of cold or flu like illness and shorten the duration of your sickness (1).
When glutathione is depleted, your immune system is weakened and this increases the risk of illness such as respiratory infections. Glutathione levels can be raised through behaviors like exercise and sleep, but also by taking N-acetyl cysteine.
A recent study found that participants who took NAC for 6 months had a much lower risk of catching an illness than those taking placebo. This effect was especially true for older individuals (2).
N-acetyl cysteine has many other benefits beyond immune support–it’s good for brain health, it boosts heart health, prevents damage to proteins or fats caused by free radicals known as lipid peroxidation, and it helps detoxify the body.
Quercetin is a naturally occurring flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and is a great way to boost your immune system. In a recent meta-analysis, quercetin has been shown to reduce the frequency, length of illness, and severity of upper respiratory tract infections by about 33% overall (3).
Apples, onions, tea leaves, and berries are all good sources of quercetin (and a little bit of vitamin C). During cold and flu season, stocking your fridge and pantry with quercetin-containing foods, plus keeping a quercetin supplement on hand is a great way to boost your natural immunity.
This, along with most all immune boosting supplements, can be bought at health food stores either in capsule or powder form.
Immune Support Supplements
3. Black cumin seed oil
Many people swear by black cumin seed oil as a way to boost the immune system against colds or flu-like illnesses. Black cumin seeds contain an active ingredient called thymoquinone that is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Black seed oil has immuno-modulatory, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects, which may be helpful for a variety of illnesses, including symptoms brought on by cold or flu-like viruses (4).
Black cumin seed oil has also been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to promote overall wellness and support the respiratory system.
It is available for purchase online in capsule or liquid form and can be taken daily to keep colds at bay when seasons change. Especially during times of high stress, our immune systems are needed more than ever!
Work with board-certified, integrative physicians who provide medical advice and get to the root of decreased immune function. Contact a provider now.
4. Green tea extract
This is a supplement that has been shown to reduce the duration of colds by about three days in people who were taking green tea supplements regularly, compared to a placebo in one study. (5). Green tea extract contains an antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which helps your body fight off viruses and bacteria more effectively.
Boost your immune system with this antioxidant from brewing organic green tea, or by drinking matcha tea, which uses ground whole young green tea leaves, and is a concentrated source of many nutrients, including EGCG.
Immune System Booster
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin to boost your innate immune system. It’s so important that studies show those who are low in vitamin C have an increased risk of worse flu-like illnesses (6).
Vitamin C is used by the body in many ways, but it has a few key roles when it comes to immune health benefits. Vitamin C helps produce white blood cells that are essential for fighting off viruses or bacteria before they can make you sick. Plus, it also helps the body absorb iron.
Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties help fight off free radicals that can damage healthy cells, and reduce your risk of illness.
Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, strawberries, bell peppers (especially red), broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. If you’re not eating enough of these foods, vitamin C supplements daily are a great idea to keep your immune system strong.
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Fight off Immune Diseases
Adaptogens are also known as “immunomodulators” because they help modulate the immune system in response to stressors like illness or injury. These adaptogenic herbs include ashwagandha, ginseng, astragalus, cordyceps, and reishi mushrooms. Though there are hundreds of herbs, roots, and foods that are considered adaptogens, and most all support a healthy immune response.
The adaptogens mentioned above have been shown to be effective immune boosting supplements. They increase immunity-related proteins in your body while also reducing inflammatory cytokines that can worsen symptoms of colds or flu.
For example, an herb called holy basil (also known as tulsi) has been used for centuries as an adaptogen and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties (7).
Astragalus, an herb popular for respiratory health, has been shown to increase what are called interferons (8). These interferons are specialized immune cells that need to be activated when your body is fighting off a cold or illness.
Support immune health with adaptogenic herbs like astragalus in the Defender.
Minerals as Immune Boosting Supplements
Zinc is a mineral that is critical for many aspects of health, including immune system function. Zinc plays a key role in helping your body make new immune system cells, and your immune system’s ability to function normally–similar to vitamin C.
Zinc-rich foods include oysters (the best source), grass fed beef, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, spinach, cashews, and dark chocolate.
Probiotics support a healthy gut microbiome and beneficial bacteria and can also help boost your immune system.
The gut microbiome contains as much as 75% of your immune system, and growing research shows that having a healthy balance of bacteria in your digestive tract helps reduce inflammation, improve nutrient absorption, and fuel a robust immune system and immune response.
Studies show that people with autoimmune conditions like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis tend to have lower levels of good bacteria in their microbiome. This may make it harder for the immune system to do its job.
The best way to get more probiotics is by eating fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt (dairy or nondairy). If you can’t eat these nutritious foods on a regular basis, taking a quality probiotic is key.
Boost your gut microbiome with a high-potency probiotic in HiFlora-50.
Other Preventatives for the Common Cold and Flu
Vitamin C and other nutrients are great immune boosting supplements to have on hand during cold and flu season. Although, there are some key lifestyle practices that can help with immune support as well.
Eating a healthy diet provides all the nutrients a healthy immune system needs to function its best. Avoid sugary foods and eat plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats.
Acupuncture has been shown to support the body’s immune system by reducing inflammation in the body.
Stress management practices, like mindfulness or meditation, can reduce cortisol levels and support the immune system.
Exercise is also important for reducing stress levels and its anti-inflammatory effects provide immune enhancing properties–try yoga, Pilates, or strength training.
IV Therapy and Immune Function
At CentreSpringMD, our IV glutathione is one of our patients’ most loved IV therapy drips. Glutathione is administered intravenously in order to reduce oxidative stress and decrease inflammation, which can help boost immunity.
Some people opt for regular IV treatments when they’re feeling under the weather in an attempt to fight off a cold or flu faster. Many patients book IV treatments as a healthy way to maintain optimal health.
IV therapy is also helpful for those who have autoimmune conditions that may be worsened by cold weather.
Browse the unique Cold and Flu Buster drip at CentreSpringMD.
Boosting Immune Health with Integrative Medicine
Cold and flu season is here, but there’s no need to feel helpless through it! A few essential immune boosting supplements, like vitamin C, quercetin, black cumin seed oil, zinc, and adaptogens are among the best supplements to boost the immune system.
Essential vitamins, minerals, and herbs can help shorten the duration of viral or bacterial illnesses and their symptoms. If you need help getting your immune system back on track, contact CentreSpringMD today and we’ll pair you with the right remedies for your immune system.
Categories: Family Health