The Best Immune-boosting Supplements, According to a Dietitian

Doctor's Best Vitamin C with Q-C is our top pick

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A healthy diet, adequate sleep, exercise, hand hygiene, hydration and stress management are all great ways to support the immune system throughout the year, especially during cold and flu season. There are certain vitamins and minerals that are particularly important for supporting the immune system, including vitamin C, D, and zinc. Those that are deficient in any of these nutrients due to an inadequate diet or a preexisting health condition may be more susceptible to a weakened immune system, and therefore may benefit from supplementation.

Alanna Cabrero, RDN says, "Our immune system is bolstered or suppressed by various lifestyle factors including nutrition, hydration, sleep, and stress. It’s important to look at the whole picture before turning to supplementation. That said, I recommend supplementation if someone's diet is missing a key nutrient, there is a known deficiency, during certain seasons (i.e,. cold season), or when traveling." In addition to key nutrients, some research shows that the addition of certain herbs, like echinacea, may slightly reduce your chances of catching a cold.

It is important to note that these supplements should not be viewed as a treatment for illness and may not be suitable for all, as nutritional needs are highly individualized. Additionally, consuming excess amounts of vitamins and minerals from supplement form is not shown to improve immunity and may have negative health consequences, so be sure not to exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for any vitamin or mineral.When selecting our top list, we considered quality of ingredients, dosage and third-party testing.

Verywell Fit Approved Immune-boosting Supplements

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Best Vitamin C: Doctor's Best Vitamin C with Q-C

Doctor's Best Vitamin C
Courtesy of Doctor's Best.

Doctor's Best Vitamin C with Q-C is our top pick because it is a high quality Vitamin C supplement that supports the immune system through its antioxidant activity, which may reduce the reduce the severity and duration of colds.As a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C has a low risk of over supplementation, as your body excretes any excess, making it a safe choice for most individuals.

Doctor's Best Vitamin C provides 1,000 mg of ascorbic acid, which is the preferred source of supplemental vitamin C due to bioavailability. Doctor's Best uses a particular brand of ascorbic acid called Quali-C, which is celebrated for its quality and reliability. The brand recommends taking the non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan capsules without food.

Best Zinc: Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate 15mg

Thorne Zinc Picolinate 15mg
Courtesy of Thorne.

Zinc is shown to support immune cells, and similar to vitamin C, it may also reduce the severity and duration of the common cold.

Thorne is a trusted brand with a commitment to high-quality products that are tested for quality, safety, and efficacy. The company prides itself on offering research-backed ingredients that are highly potent and easily absorbed. Thorne Research capsules contain 15 mg of zinc picolinate, a highly absorbable form of zinc. The capsules are free of gluten, GMOs, artificial preservatives, and all of the major allergens, so it’s accessible to a wide variety of people.

Best Vitamin D: Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3-25 mcg

Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3-25 mcg

Courtesy of Amazon

Anecdotally, sunshine is always a great way to boost mood and immunity. In fact, exposure to sunshine boosts vitamin D production in the skin which may in turn support the immune system. Research published in 2017 shows that supplementation with vitamin D may be protective against the flu.

Each once-daily soft gel of Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 provides 1000IU, or 125% of the recommended daily value. Nordic Natural's non-GMO product is third-party tested and NSF-Certified to ensure you're getting the highest quality vitamin possible that complies with strict manufacturing standards. Nordic Naturals recommends taking the supplement with food, as vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is best absorbed with healthy sources of fat in the diet.

Best Echinacea: Gaia Herbs Echinacea Supreme

Gaia Herbs Echinacea
Courtesy of Amazon.

Taking echinacea while you're feeling well is thought to reduce the chances of catching a cold. While more research is needed, there is some clinical evidence to support echinacea's immune-boosting properties.Gaia Herbs' USDA Certified Organic Echinacea Supreme liquid extract blends two types of echinacea —echinacea purpurea and echinacea angustifolia— to create a highly potent supplement.

Gaia recommends that adults take 40-60 drops at onset of symptoms in a small amount of water 4 to 6 times per day, in between meals. The purity-tested liquid is great for use at home or on-the-go and is free of dairy, gluten, and soy. According to the NIH, short-term echinacea consumption is safe and the risk of interaction with medication is low. Some reported side effects include nausea and stomach pain.

Final Verdict

There are many options when it comes to specific supplements you can use to boost your immunity. If you're looking to use something year-round to boost your immunity, consider Doctor's Best Vitmain C with QualiC.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

What to Look for in an Immune-Boosting Supplement

Form

Supplements are available in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, lozenges, and liquids. If you have trouble swallowing pills, you may prefer a chewable tablet or liquid supplement.

Type

There are many different types of each supplement available. For example, there is a huge variety of probiotic strains, three species of echinacea, and multiple forms of zinc. Speak with your physician to figure out what works best for you.

Dosage

It's important to note that these evidence-based supplements may optimize and bolster your immunity; however, it's always a good idea to check with your physician before adding any supplement to your routine. Specifically, ask your health care provider about the supplement and dosage that is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What foods help boost immunity?

    Your immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that work together to protect your body against germs that make you sick. Though diet plays an essential role in supporting immunity, no single food boosts immunity.

    However, a balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy proteins—is the best way to protect your health. A proper diet ensures your immune system has everything it needs to fight off harmful germs.

  • What are some other ways to boost immunity?

    Exercise and sleep also benefit your immune system. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, like a brisk walk or a hilly bike ride, stimulates cellular immunity, increasing production of germ-fighting white blood cells and proteins that reduce inflammation.

    As the saying goes, “sleep is the best medicine.” Not getting an adequate amount of sleep affects production of the cells and proteins that protect you from disease, making you more susceptible to illness. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night to boost immunity.


  • Why should you give your immune system a boost?

    Your immune system fights off harmful substances on a daily basis. Poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and stress negatively affect your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Giving your immune system a boost improves your body’s defenses against disease and may prevent you from getting sick, or help you heal faster when you are ill.

  • How do I keep my immune system strong?

    Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and making sleep a priority are some of the best things you can do to keep your immune system strong. Adding immune-supporting supplements, finding healthy outlets for chronic stress, and maintaining a healthy weight also helps. And of course, wash your hands regularly throughout the day to prevent the spread of germs.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am careful to recommend supplements. I spent time reviewing the most current clinical research on specific herb and vitamin supplements that may support the immune system. I looked at multiple brands and products and consulted with trusted peers in dietetics. I believe the supplements in the round-up are made by trusted brands that are devoted to product purity and are composed of high-quality ingredients.

Personally, in addition to focusing on lifestyle factors, I take vitamin C, probiotics, and elderberry to boost my immune system.—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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