For many people, taking excellent care of their health is a year-round job. From healthy eating habits, getting enough sleep, and regular physical exercise, carving out time each day to make healthy choices takes work. Even after all our efforts, though, sometimes we still feel the need to supplement our hard work with important vitamins and minerals.
In addition to feeling our best, healthy habits impact our immune system function. With fall and winter right around the corner, you may be looking to boost your immune system with supplements but aren’t sure where to start. Keep reading for the top immune system boosting supplements you need in your medicine cabinet.
1. Vitamin C
While Vitamin C can be obtained through many food sources, well beyond citrus fruits, during cold and flu season, it’s a great way to protect from viruses. Vitamin C boosts your immune system through the growth and repair of tissues, not to mention microbial killing. The human body does not produce Vitamin C; it can only be obtained through food, so supplementing is essential for immune function.
Elderberries are a tart and somewhat sour berry native to the Americas, Europe, South Pacific, and Asia. While you may opt to only take elderberry supplements when you’re sick, as they’ve been shown to be potent antivirals, in fall and winter, they’re worth taking each day. They are known for robustly boosting the immune system, so if you’re on immune-suppressing drugs, elderberries may not be safe.
Zinc is found in cells throughout our entire bodies and plays a critical role in fighting viruses and bacteria. Zinc can help heal wounds, boost your immune system, and support growth. Zinc capsules have even been shown to help everything from ADHD to acne.
Especially if you’re over 70, it’s vital to check your Zinc levels, as most Americans are at some level of Zinc deficiency. Keep your immune system strong by adding a zinc supplement in the fall and winter, and make sure to eat foods rich in zinc like red meat, poultry, cereals, and grains.
4. Vitamin D
During the pandemic, we learned a lot about the importance of Vitamin D over the last couple of years. Vitamin D is essential to proper immune function, helps control infections, reduces inflammation, and may even affect cancer cells.
While it’s a good idea to get your Vitamin D levels checked by your GP before starting supplementation, most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. This is an easy supplement to remember as you typically only need to take it every few days to achieve optimal Vitamin D levels.
While most people know garlic from food dishes and use it in many dishes at home, supplementing with a garlic supplement is fantastic during cold and flu season. Some people eat garlic during a cold or flu and swear by its ability to heal them in days. Garlic helps immune systems through its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic also stimulates the protection of healthy white blood cells, which fight infection and other diseases.
The powerful plant of the daisy family, Echinacea, is a must during fall and winter. Not only does Echinacea help boost your immune system, but it’s also been shown to dramatically impact respiratory viruses and their outcome. While you can supplement easily with a pill or tincture, enjoying a nice cup of Echinacea tea in the evenings is a great way to relax and feel confident in your health.
7. Medicinal Mushrooms
There are several mushrooms that have proven immune-boosting properties. Most popularly, Reishi, Chaga, and Agarikon. The mushrooms are powerful antivirals and have been shown to dramatically improve conditions from respiratory viruses, asthma, and lung infections. Turkey tail, Cordyceps, and Lion’s Mane are other mushrooms worth looking into. You can take capsules of the mushrooms and tinctures, and they’re even made into enjoyable teas, cocoas, and coffees.
While there are more supplements worth adding like Vitamin B-12, Selenium, Curcumin, Licorice Root, and Andrographis, the above-mentioned are well tolerated by most individuals and have proven immune-boosting properties. If you take regular prescription medication, it’s a good idea to check with your GP or pharmacist before adding supplements into your routine though most show no interactions. Here’s to your health!