Supplements for Your Immune System This Winter
Tired of feeling run down every time it gets cold or when your child comes home from school? I remember feeling under the weather on a regular basis when my daughter started day school and I was working at two different hospitals. Luckily, I found some supplements that have helped me from getting under the weather and have given me relief once I start feeling run down.
Vitamin C is the most common vitamin known for assisting the immune system. Originally discovered to be beneficial for the prevention of scurvy, now it has been used primarily for assisting the immune system.
I love to take vitamin C to help support my immune system. Especially since I work out on a regular basis, I know that I am putting more stress on my body and need extra support. (1,2).
Zinc is a trace mineral and has many different benefits including prostate health, muscle growth and repair as well as beneficial for the immune system.
I like to take zinc as soon as I start feeling under the weather. There are many ways to take zinc, from capsules to lozenges. I personally prefer either a lozenge or a liquid (3).
Elderberry has been used for thousands of years and besides being a great product for the immune system, it is also commonly used for making wine!
Elderberry is another supplement that I like to take during the winter months and especially if I am traveling. The most common form is liquid form and is either by itself or in combination with other immune supporting products (4).
The traditional use of Echinacea has been to boost the immune system and is native to North America. There are many varieties of Echinacea, but the most common are E. pururea, E. angustifolia and E. pallida.
There has been a myth that Echinacea should only be taken once you feel run down, but other research indicated that it is better to take it during the winter months in order to help support the immune system (5)
Beta Glucans are a type of sugar that come from plants such as oats and barley. It can also be found in the cell of fungi, yeast and bacteria.
A lesser known supplement, Beta Glucans are on my list of must take items during the winter months to assist with immune support and overall wellbeing (6).
You can find these products by themselves or a combination with some or all of these ingredients to help support your immune system, and remember to stay warm and healthy!
- Sasazuki S, Sasaki S, Tsubono Y, Okubo S, Hayashi M & Tsugane S. Effect of vitamin C on common cold: randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005) 60, 9–17 (2006)
- Hemilä H. Vitamin C and Common Cold Incidence: A Review of Studies with Subjects Under Heavy Physical Stress. Int J Sports Med 1996; 17(5): 379-383
- Hulisz D. Efficacy of Zinc Against Common Cold Viruses: An Overview. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. Volume 44, Issue 5, September–October 2004, Pages 594-603
- Tiralongo E, Wee SS, and Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 24;8(4):182.
- Jawad M1, Schoop R, Suter A, Klein P, and Eccles R. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:841315. Epub 2012 Sep 16.
- Volman JJ, Ramakers JD, and Plat J. Dietary modulation of immune function by β-glucans. Physiology & Behavior. Volume 94, Issue 2, 23 May 2008, Pages 276-28
Chris Terrell, NS, RDN, CSCS
Specialized Health & Nutrition