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Top 10 Natural Supplements For The Immune System Support
Feb 01, 23
This article has been vetted by the Onnit Advisory Board. Read more about our editorial process.
Author: Sony Sherpa

Top 10 Natural Supplements For The Immune System Support

  • by Sony Sherpa

    Medically reviewed by

    Sony Sherpa

    Dr. Sony Sherpa is a board-certified Clinical Doctor and dedicated advocate for holistic medicine, specializing in functional mushrooms. Her blend of medical expertise and passion for alternative wellness lends authenticity to her role as a contributor for Natures Rise.

  • |
  • 15 min read
Top 10 Natural Supplements For The Immune System Support

Maintaining a healthy immune system is the key to avoiding illness and infection all year long. The most effective approaches to boost your immune system are to live a healthy lifestyle that includes eating nutrient-dense meals, getting adequate rest and exercise, and getting enough sleep.

Additionally, studies have shown that taking vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements can help boost immune function and possibly offer some level of illness protection.

Here, we will explore ten natural supplements for immune system so that you maintain peak health and can mobilize a robust immune response when required.

Best Supplements For Immune Health

The immune system, which is made up of a sophisticated network of cells, systems, and chemicals, continually protects your body from pathogens, including viruses, poisons, and bacteria. The good news is that there are a number of relatively easy methods you can use to improve the health of your family's immune system.

Below are the ten best natural nutrients for boosting the immune system. Many of these immune system "assisters" have been used for millennia by many civilizations.

1. Vitamin C: The Immune Vitamin

Vitamin C: The Immune Vitamin

No list of best immune support supplements is complete without vitamin C. And given the vital role vitamin C plays in immune function, perhaps vitamin C is the most widely used supplement for boosting the immune system.

Known as “the immune system vitamin,” vitamin C works with other amino acids like proline to strengthen areas of your body, including connective tissue.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and strengthens our immune system cells. It gets used up rapidly during infection and when we are under tremendous stress. It also speeds up wound healing(1) and is great for your skin.

Supplemental vitamin C has been shown to shorten the length and severity of a cold(2), and preliminary research suggests that it may also minimize the intensity of symptoms experienced by Covid patients(3) who are hospitalized.

Since vitamin C cannot be produced by humans and is not kept by the body, it must be continuously refilled. Rich natural sources include citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bell peppers, papayas, strawberries, spinach, and black currants. However, there are supplements available for times when you need more.

2. Functional Fungi: Culinary And Medicinal Wonders

Functional Fungi: Culinary And Medicinal Wonders

Since ancient times, medicinal mushrooms have been used to both prevent and treat illness and infection. In addition, the ability of numerous varieties of medicinal mushrooms to strengthen the immune system has been well researched, making it one the best supplement for immune system.

Lion’s mane, Cordyceps, Maitake, Turkey tail, and Reishi supplements are available as powder, capsules, and tincture, and all have been shown to benefit immune health.

For instance, in a study, Cordyceps mycelium culture extract significantly increased the activity of natural killer (NK) cells(4), a type of white blood cell that fights infection.

Likewise, a study in mice with the deadly bacterial disease tuberculosis(5) discovered that Cordyceps medication significantly improved immune function and decreased inflammation when compared to a control group.

Another medicinal fungus with potent benefits on immunological function is Turkey tail. According to human research, the mushroom may improve immune response, particularly in persons with specific forms of cancer(6).

Functional mushroom powder fulfills many requirements for those looking for natural supplements to enhance immunological health. It can be easily included in your healthy regimen and can be added to delectable broths and drink mixes, such as coffee and smoothies.

3. Zinc For Protecting Tissue Barriers

Zinc For Protecting Tissue Barriers

Zinc is frequently included in dietary supplements and other healthcare items like lozenges that are designed to strengthen your immune system. This is because it is crucial for the health of the immune system.

Generally speaking, zinc is necessary for optimal protein synthesis in the human body and catalyzes close to 100 enzymes. In addition to relying on vitamin C to play its full potential in the human body, zinc also promotes immune system health on its own.

The mineral is essential for immune cell development and communication, as well as for its important role in the inflammatory response. Additionally, zinc specifically safeguards the body's tissue barriers and helps block the entry of external infections.

Zinc is a mineral that humans must consume daily because their bodies cannot produce it. Pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lentils, and cocoa powder are among the foods high in zinc. However, animal sources of zinc, like grass-fed beef, kefir, and liver, are frequently more accessible to the body. Therefore, taking supplements is commonly required to meet your zinc goals.

4. Vitamin D For Effective Immune Response

Vitamin D For Effective Immune Response

Does Vitamin D supplement to support immune system? Yes, please!

The sunshine vitamin is necessary for the well-being and proper functioning of your immune system, which is why it is on our list of the best natural immune booster supplements.

The pathogen-fighting abilities of monocytes and macrophages, two critical components of your immune system's defense, are boosted by this fat-soluble vitamin. It also reduces inflammation, which aids in promoting an effective immunological response.

This vital vitamin is often lacking in people, which may affect immune system performance. Upper respiratory tract infections, such as influenza and allergic asthma, are more common in people with low vitamin D levels.

The prevalence of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis(7) has also been linked to low vitamin D levels. Most people benefit from vitamin supplementation because vitamin D isn't easily accessible in many meals (apart from cod liver, fatty fish, and fortified foods), especially during the winter or if you don't spend a lot of time outdoors.

5. Elderberry: One From The History Books

Elderberry: One From The History Books

Elderberry is one of the popular natural supplements for the immune system. Historical documents demonstrate that elderberry has been a go-to remedy for wellness practitioners for ages, with proof of elderberry-based recipes dating back to Ancient Egypt.

Elderberry is a potent berry with a high vitamin C content, but it also has special antioxidants that support the health of our immune system. Nowadays, a lot of people take elderberry to boost various immune system functions.

These benefits have even been backed by research. For example, in test-tube studies, Elderberry extracts have exhibited strong antibacterial and antiviral activity against influenza virus(8) strains and the bacterial pathogens that cause upper respiratory tract infections.

Additionally, it has been demonstrated to improve immune system response and may lessen the length and intensity of colds(9) as well as symptoms connected to viral infections.

6. Omega-3s For Immune Cell Integrity

Omega-3s For Immune Cell Integrity

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs, often known as omega-3 fatty acids, are crucial for maintaining good health in people. In addition, they are thought to provide many advantages for general health, including enhancing the immune system. They primarily consist of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Hundreds of study articles have helped us to develop a clearer understanding of the connection between omega-3 fatty acids and the immune system.

According to a study in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology(10), B cells perform better when consumed by DHA and EPA-rich fish oils. White blood cells, known as B cells, are created to combat germs and prevent sickness.

Your immune cells' cellular membranes, which divide their interiors from their exteriors, incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into their structure, improving cell performance. Consuming fatty acids causes changes in immune cell membranes.

The scientific name for cellular membrane components is "lipid rafts." Omega-3 fatty acids have recently been discovered to help restructure the cell membrane, or lipid rafts(11), in T-cells, which suggests that ingesting omega-3s helps boost the immune system.

7. Probiotics For Gut Health

Probiotics For Gut Health

Probiotics are helpful microorganisms that can improve general health and wellness as well as digestive health. Our intestines contain 80% of our immune system, which explains why good bacteria can keep us healthy. You should think about consuming cultured foods like kefir, yogurt, and kombucha. And when there's not enough, probiotic supplements are helpful.

Probiotics may have a favorable effect on the severity and duration of symptoms of respiratory tract infections, according to a study(12).

Another research done on children(13) also showed similar beneficial effects, with researchers concluding that using Lactobacillus rhamnosus shortens respiratory tract infections' duration.

Finally, a 2017 study published in Nutrients(14) examined how probiotics and prebiotics were used by those getting influenza vaccinations. There were 1,979 participants in the study. According to the findings, those who consumed probiotics and prebiotics had a stronger immunological reaction to the immunization, which reduced their risk of contracting an illness. 

8. Echinacea: An Antioxidant Powerhouse

Echinacea: An Antioxidant Powerhouse

Next on our list of the best supplements to boost immune system is the go-to immune herb Echinacea. Often known as coneflower, echinacea has historically been used by native Americans to help the respiratory system and the lungs. In addition, it has potent antioxidant effects.

Long-term use of the herb has been proven safe(15) for both children and adults. In addition, Echinacea use could reduce the length of the common cold, indicating that it aids the immune system in fighting off an already present infection, according to a 2015 JAMA study(16).

Similar results have been seen in other investigations. People typically drink echinacea tea or take it as a supplement or extract.

9. Curcumin: From The Kitchen To Medicine

Curcumin: From The Kitchen To Medicine

Curcumin, the primary active component of turmeric root, has been found to have many positive effects on health. For example, curcumin has been shown to help treat conditions ranging from Alzheimer's disease to autoimmunity in more than 120 human clinical trials(17).

The secret to curcumin's effectiveness is how it reduces inflammation throughout the body, not just easing arthritis and pain symptoms but also preventing the inflammatory cytokines that cause diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.

Additionally, it improves the health of the microorganisms(18) in our stomach, strengthening our immune system. Supplements are your best friend because curcumin is poorly absorbed, and you need to consume a lot of turmeric roots to have real advantages.

10. N Acetylcysteine

N Acetylcysteine

A powerful antioxidant, N-acetyl l-cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione. It is a byproduct of the amino acid l-cysteine, which occurs naturally. Animals, fungi, plants, and humans all have glutathione. It can help maintain immunity while helping protect the cells from oxidative damage.

According to studies(19), higher blood levels of glutathione are linked to a lower risk of disease and infections, particularly in the elderly. Studies have also shown that glutathione(20) is essential for maintaining the capacity of our white blood cells, or lymphocytes, to fight infections.

The following illnesses are linked to reduced glutathione levels in the blood:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Various bacterial and viral infections
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Therefore, if an illness is present, higher blood levels might aid in protecting against it. So, if you are in need of immune-boosting supplements, NAC is one of the top picks.

FAQs About Supplements For Immune System

What Weakens The Immune System The Most?

Smoking, drinking and eating poorly all have the potential to lower your immune system. In addition, infections like measles, mono (mononucleosis), and the flu virus can also temporarily impair immunity.

How Can I Boost My Immune System Quickly?

Eating well, being physically active, and maintaining optimal weight will help enhance immunity. In addition to a healthy lifestyle choice, taking supplements can quickly make your immune system more robust.

How Long Does It Take For Natural Supplements To Start Working?

Typically, it takes three to six weeks to notice a difference after taking supplements. However, the more severely deficient you are in a vitamin or nutrient, the quicker you'll see a difference.

Key Takeaways

People frequently select foods and substances that support good immune functioning when attempting to support the immune system naturally. A robust immune response will aid in defending against encroaching infections.

Vitamin C and D and minerals like zinc offer a variety of vital micronutrients for immune system health. In addition, herbs like echinacea and functional mushrooms are among the best natural supplements for immune system health. Take these regularly to activate powerful immune support.

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  1. Vitamin C: a wound healing perspective, (1) 
  2. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold, (2) 
  3. Vitamin C and COVID-19, (3) 
  4. Immunomodulatory effects of a mycelium extract of Cordyceps (Paecilomyces hepiali; CBG-CS-2): a randomized and double-blind clinical trial, (4) 
  5. Cordyceps sinensis promotes immune regulation and enhances bacteriostatic activity of PA-824 via IL-10 in Mycobacterium tuberculosis disease, (5) 
  6. Preclinical and clinical studies of Coriolus versicolor polysaccharopeptide as an immunotherapeutic in China, (6) 
  7. Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis: A Comprehensive Review, (7) 
  8. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses, (8) 
  9. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, (9) 
  10. DHA-enriched fish oil targets B cell lipid microdomains and enhances ex vivo and in vivo B cell function, (10) 
  11. Omega-3 fatty acids, lipid rafts, and T cell signaling, (11) 
  12. Probiotics for the prevention of respiratory tract infections: a systematic review, (12) 
  13. Probiotics for respiratory tract infections in children attending day care centers-a systematic review, (13) 
  14. Effect of Probiotics and Prebiotics on Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, (14) 
  15. Review and Assessment of Medicinal Safety Data of Orally Used Echinacea Preparations, (15) 
  16. Echinacea for Preventing and Treating the Common Cold, (16) 
  17. Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials, (17) 
  18. Interaction between Gut Microbiota and Curcumin: A New Key of Understanding for the Health Effects of Curcumin, (18) 
  19. Glutathione and morbidity in a community-based sample of elderly, (19) 
  20. Glutathione and immune function, (20)

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