Immune system supplements are vitamins, minerals, herbs, probiotics and more that provide a direct or indirect boost to immune system function.
The immune system is what protects us from the untold number of viruses and bacteria we share the planet with. Without it, it is likely none of us would last more than a week or two. Your immune system also protects you from aggressive fungi and myriad environmental and manmade toxins, while also playing a key role in the healing process.
There are scores of supplements available today that claim to bolster the immune system. Some do, some do not. After long hours of research and careful consideration we determined that the following are the best immune system supplements of 2020.
1. Vita Balance Immune Support
Immune Support takes a big-picture approach to immune system supplementation, and the results are impressive. Included here are potent antioxidants like vitamins C and E that reduce oxidative stress (a major cause of disease, including cancer). You will also find beta-glucans, which are a type of polysaccharides that the FDA recognizes as being able to reduce the risk of heart disease.
In addition, Immune Support harnesses the anti-tumor, antiviral and cholesterol-lowering potential of mushrooms to cover the gaps in immune system support so many other supplements miss. And all of that is just for starters. If you are looking for a supplement to provide a broad-spectrum boost to your immune system, here it is.
2. Kirkland Signature Maximum Strength Vitamin D3
A macrophage (the name is derived from Greek and roughly translated means ‘big eater’) is a type of white blood cell whose job is to attack and consume foreign substances in your system. Vitamin D3 is known to facilitate the action of these vital foot soldiers of the immune system.
Vitamin D3 also possesses anti-inflammatory properties which help the immune system deal with everything from asthma to arthritis to colitis and much more. Unlike some vitamins, it does not take much vitamin D3 to fulfill your immune system requirements, which means Kirkland Signature Maximum Strength Vitamin D3 capsules are a very agreeable size. Kirkland Signature D3 is produced in the US in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility.
3. NOW Zinc Picolinate 50mg
Zinc is essential to effective immune system function. Without it, immune cell production suffers and the inflammatory response is not able to fulfill its duties in an effective manner. Zinc deficiency is noted in many people with compromised immune systems and is common in the elderly, whose diets are often missing the type of foods that contain zinc.
NOW is one of the premier producers of dietary supplements in the US. Their Zinc Picolinate supplement provides no-nonsense immune system support in an easy to swallow capsule. It’s an affordable, dependable, effective way to prop up your immune system. All NOW supplements are produced in a GMP facility under the watchful eye of the FDA.
4. Zhou Sambucus Elderberry Gummies
Some immune system supplements are foundational in that they help reinforce the building blocks of your body’s defenses. Others are more ‘lend-a-hand’ type supplements that work alongside your immune system to fight off invaders. Elderberry is one of those helping-hand supplements.
It is a natural anti-inflammatory and is loaded with antioxidants that get after destructive free radicals, thereby lessening the effects of oxidative stress and taking pressure off the immune system. The fact that Zhou Elderberry is presented in gummy form is good news for anyone not fond of swallowing enormous capsules. Zhou Elderberry Gummies contain no genetically modified organisms and are certified vegan.
5. Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C 500 mg
A lot of folks suspect that the purported immune-boosting capability of vitamin C is little more than an old wives tale. If it is, then it turns out those old wives knew what they were talking about. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that plays an important role in minimizing damage from oxidative stress.
Not only that, but research indicates vitamin C supplementation can play an important role in preventing upper respiratory tract infections. And the fewer infections you get the less stress is placed on your immune system. There is also evidence that Vitamin C supplementation can reduce the length and severity of colds and flu by a significant degree. So listen to those old wives and get some Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C.
6. Life Extension Super Selenium Complex
When they consider ways to bolster their immune response selenium is probably not on most people’s minds. But it should be. In multiple clinical trials selenium has proven its ability to provide real and significant benefits for the heart, mind and thyroid systems. Like many other supplements on our list, it too is a powerful antioxidant that reduces your immune system workload by reducing oxidative stress.
Life Extension Super Selenium Complex provides 200 mcg of selenium in an easy to swallow, once-daily vegetable cellulose capsule produced in their GMP facility. For just pennies a day you can strengthen your immune system response with this Super Selenium Complex supplement.
7. BRI Nutrition Odorless Garlic
Europeans have understood the medicinal qualities of garlic for thousands of years. Recently, clinical research has confirmed those beneficial qualities and attributed them in large part to a compound in garlic called alliin. Alliin is derived from the amino acid cysteine and has robust antioxidant properties, besides also giving garlic its distinctive smell.
Garlic is useful in helping the immune system maintain cardiovascular health. It can also help regulate cholesterol levels and aid in digestion. BRI Nutrition Odorless Garlic is an affordable way to enjoy the immune system enhancing possibilities of garlic. It is made in the US in a GMP facility and the manufacturer offers a 100% money back guarantee.
8. BioEmblem Turmeric Curcumin Supplement
Over the past two decades inflammation has been unmasked as the culprit behind myriad diseases and conditions. As a result, many supplements now include anti-inflammatory compounds intended to head off the inflammatory response before it can wreak its special brand of havoc. Turmeric is one such compound.
Turmeric contains curcumin which gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color, but also harbors impressive anti-inflammatory properties. BioEmblem Turmeric Supplement provides 1800 mg of organic turmeric per capsule, as well as 15 mg of bioperine to facilitate absorption. BioEmblem supplements are made in a GMP facility in the US and are subjected to rigorous third party testing.
9. Vitamin Bounty Immune Support Probiotics
There are a number of ways to address the issue of immune system health. One of them is to restore a healthy gut biota where food is processed more efficiently. This aids in nutrient absorption, which in turn, provides the immune system with the compounds it needs to function at an optimal level.
The range of probiotic strains is impressive. And they throw in both vitamin C and zinc to fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation for good measure. The probiotics chosen for this supplement have all demonstrated an ability to promote healthy immune system response and are presented in easy to swallow veggie capsules.
10. Nature’s Way Systemwell Ultimate Immunity
The last of our best immune system supplements is from Nature’s Way. Nature’s Way is well-known for producing high-quality dietary supplements and their Systemwell Ultimate Immunity supplement is indicative of the thoughtful approach typical of the company.
They approach immune system health from all sides simultaneously providing garlic and vitamin C for their antioxidant properties, zinc for its anti-inflammatory properties and maitake mushroom for its beta-glucan. And that’s just for starters, because there is also vitamin D to aid in white blood cell creation and cayenne pepper to aid absorption. If you like your supplements to be well-rounded you are sure to like Systemwell from Nature’s Way.
What is an Immune System Supplement?
An immune system supplement is a dietary supplement comprised of vitamins, minerals, herbs, probiotics and other compounds that have demonstrated an ability to bolster immune system response. They may be as simple as a vitamin D supplement, or as complex as a probiotic supplement that provides an array of beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut biota.
Immune system supplements are completely non-addictive, contain no narcotics, steroids or other problematic ingredients and are available without a prescription from countless online and brick and mortar retail outlets. Unless otherwise directed you take them in the same way you would take a multivitamin. That is, once a day with water or food.
What are the Benefits of an Immune System Supplement?
Immune system supplements provide greater resistance to all threats – The immune system is our rapid reaction force, our personal armed forces, our secret service agents that identify and neutralize threats. And like a soldier, sailor or secret service agent it works best if it is well-nourished and has the tools it needs to do its job. Immune system supplements provide that nourishment and those tools.
Immune system supplements are more relevant than ever – We should say upfront that immune system supplements are not a treatment for the coronavirus. Nor do they provide a shield against it. Nonetheless, they are more relevant today than ever before. While they themselves cannot cure you of covid19 or ARDS (1), what they can do is ensure that, no matter what type of pathogen you encounter, your body is in the best position to handle it.
Immune system supplements do not cause drug interactions – Immune system supplements use vitamins, minerals, various herbs and other natural compounds to bolster the immune system. The odds of experiencing a drug interaction is extremely low. Low, but not zero. As such, if you are currently taking any sort of prescription medication you should talk to your doctor before you start taking an immune system supplement, just to be sure.
Immune system supplements can protect you from oxidative stress – Scientists and researchers are only now beginning to understand the toll oxidative stress (2) takes on our bodies. It may be the single biggest source of strain on our immune systems. Today’s immune system supplements reflect that knowledge by including antioxidants like vitamin C. Antioxidants (3) are the natural enemy of free radicals (4), which course through our bodies undermining healthy cells at every turn.
Immune system supplements are non-addictive – Immune system supplements do not contain opiates or any other type of potentially addictive substances. Any reasonably healthy person should be able to enjoy the benefits of these supplements without worrying that they will become a ball and chain.
Immune system supplements have few, if any side effects – Immune system supplements are not known to produce much in the line of side effects, when taken as directed. Of course, if you ignore dosing recommendations with something like zinc you may experience cramps, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, among other things. Also, because probiotics (5) are live bacteria, those with compromised immune systems should talk to their doctor before taking them to avoid the possibility of infection.
Immune system supplements can help you recover faster – These supplements not only help you fend off viral pathogens, they also help you recover faster if you’ve come down with a cold or flu or if you’ve cut yourself working or playing. Zinc, for instance, may help people recover faster from respiratory tract infections (6). And garlic has the ability to reduce your recovery time from a cold, and in some cases, prevent you from catching a cold (7).
Immune system supplements do not require a prescription – It seems almost everything requires a prescription today. Fortunately, that is not the case with immune system supplements. They can be quickly and safely obtained from numerous online retailers as well as in countless supermarkets, pharmacies and health food stores nationwide.
Immune system supplements take the long view – Most prescription medications address specific symptoms of an injury or illness already underway. They are not intended to bolster your overall health, but rather to put out fires and leave. Immune system supplements on the other hand, are specifically intended to prevent those fires from starting. They help you construct a robust frontline defense that stays in place for the long-term.
Immune system supplements can reduce inflammation – Free radicals are unbalanced cells that course through the body wreaking havoc. They are the force behind oxidative stress which, in turn, plays a major role in the development of chronic inflammation (8) and disease, including cancer. Most of the immune system supplements on our list are rich in antioxidants; the enemies of free radicals. Which means they are also potent anti-inflammatories.
Immune system supplements can be taken at any time – There are no particular requirements when it comes to taking immune system supplements. You can take them with breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or without food if you wish. If you forget to take them one day it is not a big deal. Simply start taking them again as soon as you remember to do so.
Do Immune System Supplements Have any Side Effects?
By themselves, when taken as directed, the various vitamins, minerals, herbs and probiotics that comprise the bulk of immune system supplements will not produce adverse reactions in the vast majority of people. Typically, when someone has a negative experience it is due to taking more than the recommended amount. Either that, or they may have been taking a prescription medication like the anticoagulant (9) Warfarin and then started taking selenium (which also thins the blood), without first consulting their doctor.
Is There a Limit on How Long I Can Take Immune System Supplements?
In theory, no. Any otherwise healthy individual who is not also taking prescription medications should be able to take immune system supplements for as long as they wish. So, if you want to make taking an immune system supplement part of your morning routine, there is nothing to indicate that is a risky thing to do. In fact, it is probably a smart thing to do as long as you stay within the recommended dosages. If you have any doubts or questions you should ask your doctor.
Will Immune System Supplements Protect Against the Coronavirus?
Immune system supplements are not formulated to protect against any particular pathogen, illness or injury. Their role is to lend support to your immune system so that you might have the best possible chance to fight off the cold or flu or any other type of invasive agents. The healthier you are, and the healthier your immune system, the better your chances of emerging as quickly as possible from a bout with the common cold, seasonal flu, or the coronavirus.
Who Can Benefit from Taking Immune System Supplements?
Young people who eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and do not drink, smoke, or do drugs probably do not need an immune system supplement. Everyone else, however, should at least consider taking one. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by shoring up your natural defenses. And considering how affordable these supplements are, there is no excuse for not doing so.
Can Pregnant Women Take Immune System Supplements?
As a general rule, unless there is a specific warning on the supplement label, most pregnant women should have no problem taking an immune system supplement. It may, in fact, be a good idea. However, if you are pregnant and already taking other supplements, or are under a doctor’s care related to a specific health problem, you should not start taking one of these supplements without first discussing it with your doctor. The same is true if you are breastfeeding.
Are There Other Ways I Can Help My Immune System?
There are a number of things you can and should do to ease your immune system’s workload. These will pay both short and long term dividends. The difference between people who get sick a lot and those that do not is usually a matter of whether or not a person does these things.
For instance, those that exercise regularly not only feel and look better, they stand a better chance of fending off illness or emerging from illness quicker than those who do not exercise. Their cardiovascular system is in better shape and they are not compromised by carrying around extra weight. In addition, exercise may also increase the number of infection-fighting white blood cells (10).
Stress management is another key aspect of good overall health. High levels of stress are believed to have a negative effect on the immune system (11). So it pays to always be aware of your stress level and to avoid common stress triggers whenever possible. Finally, you would be amazed at the positive impact a simple act like washing your hands can have on your overall health. Most cold and flu transference occurs when a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their face. So when you are out and about, take a minute now and then to wash your hands. And try to minimize the number of times you touch your face.
The Bottom Line
Immune system supplements are comprised of vitamins, minerals, herbs and other compounds that address various aspects of the immune system. They are easy to get, affordable, effective and carry very little risk of side effects.
There are a couple of points to keep in mind, however. First, immune system supplements are not a guarantee that you will not get sick. And second, they do not provide immunity against any particular pathogen. That includes the coronavirus. What they do is bolster the immune system so that it is in the best possible shape to respond when called upon.
But you need to do your part too. Regular exercise and a healthy diet, not smoking, drinking to excess, or doing drugs, and practicing good hygiene will all help boost your immune system. Use the above information to help you determine which immune system supplement is right for you.