7 Powerful Supplements that Boost the Immune System
By Unite Fitness Retreat Dietician, Brooke Bouwhuis
As part of a two week educational series here at Unite Fitness Retreat on immune health, we’ll be diving into topics related to boosting your immune system. Now more then ever, we are all searching for ways to stay (or get) healthy. Join us the next couple of weeks as we discuss how you can easily improve and strengthen your immune system. Always consult a doctor before taking supplements, this information is not designed to treat illnesses or diseases.
Whether you are willing to brave the grocery store in person, place an Instantcart order, or just pull up our old friend Amazon, it is still possible to have a few things on hand to help boost your immune system.
Supplements can be scary to buy because they aren’t regulated in the same manner as prescription drugs. Dietary supplement manufactures sill have standards they have to meet, labeling potency that must be maintained through expiration and claims that have scientific substantiation to back them up. Most do not have clinical trials and billions of dollars behind their discovery BUT that doesn’t mean they are all snake oil.
A tip! Buy the store brand – Kirkland, Sam’s Choice, Spring Valley, etc- these are all manufactured by the huge companies making the branded items they sit next to on the shelf. By buying the store label you don’t buy inferior quality, you simply don’t pay for the marketing dollars it costs to get that brand into your shopping cart. They are often using the very same raw ingredients and simply adding or subtracting a “fairy dust” ingredient to set the formula apart from its branded shelf mate.
If something sounds too good to be true it probably is. Do not buy the lie, do not buy the hype. Your overall diet will have more to do with your long-term health than a collection of jars on your counter.
These are some of my favorite go-to supplements to improve immune strength:
Vitamin C – we need it to heal wounds, help crush free radicals, absorb iron and improve our immune health. Most American’s get their vitamin C from juice and potatoes. Face palm. It does not hurt to punch up the vitamin C level with a supplement. It is inexpensive and easy to find.
Liposomal Vitamin C – liposomal means it is fat soluble and more can be absorbed by the body in higher dose with less reaction (diarrhea, nausea, cramps, etc). Liposomal vitamin C allows you to take an even greater dose of vitamin C without negative side effects. It comes in liquid and capsules. The liquid is gross but less expensive. Follow the directions on the label.
Zinc – capsules or lozenges also support a strong immune response.
Vitamin D – not only helpful for better bone strength but it’s necessary for immune strength too. Anyone living north of Miami should think strongly about routinely taking a vitamin D supplement. It’s also inexpensive and most of us are deficient – have blood work done to verify your levels. Once you start supplementing regularly get your levels re-checked to make sure you are in an optimal range.
Elderberry – a natural antiviral, it is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. It also contains a compound called anthocyanidin (also found in blueberries) which stimulates the immune system. We use a liquid syrup; I look for the lowest added sugar or no sugar and it’s not disgusting to drink either. You can take it daily for maintenance or ramp up your dosage when you are sick. The package will have clear instructions.
Probiotics – especially if you have just come off an antibiotic, supplement to help support your gut microbiome (critters in your intestines that make amazing stuff for our bodies to use) recover. Look for at least 25 billion CFU and at least 5 different strains of probiotics. You get what you pay for in the world of probiotics.
Tumeric – contains the active compound curcumin, which has been shown to have incredible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. I love this in the supplement form when we are acutely ill with the latest cold or flu. Use the supplement but also use the powdered or fresh form in the food you eat daily. We add turmeric to scrambled eggs, rice, soups and smoothies. Don’t forget to add a bit of pepper when you use tumeric, pepper boosts absorption by 2000%. Eating it with a source of fat will also help increase absorption, think ghee, avocado or olive oil. How much? Read the directions on your supplement container and follow those.
This is not designed to be medical advice, please consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
Stay healthy friends!