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Even before a novel virus ravaged the world in 2019, immune function was one of the most important aspects of a healthy life. And with the coronavirus continuing to spread — along with all the other germs out there — it’s perhaps never been more important to think about immune health.
Unfortunately, the world of immune-boosting supplements can be confusing, full of half-baked scientific facts and misleading advertising. But there are several products out there that actually follow proper science and do what they say.
We recently looked at several factors to help separate these worthwhile ones from the rest, with the following named best supplements for immune health in 2022:
Keep reading to find out our credentials for creating safe and effective supplements to boost the immune system and why these products made the cut.
Our Picks for Best Supplements for Your Immune System
From product quality to customer support, these brands got our bet for best in the ‘biz in 2022.
There may only be three ingredients in this supplement to boost your immune response, but three are all you need when it comes to this clever mix of helpful herbs.
Vitamin C is sourced whole from Camu Camu fruit, one of the most vitamin C-rich foods on the planet. All that healing potential meets directly with elderberry—noted in many cultures for its ability to help with everything from the common cold to congestion and cough. And two different types of zinc are utilized to help synthesize the whole formula.
Organixx also takes pride in the integrity of its ingredients. All are sourced as ethically as possible, with the company even naming the areas its herbs are grown. And Organixx also utilizes a number of organic sources for its healthful remedy.
- Made from 83% organic ingredients
- May need to consult a doctor for usage if you’re pregnant/nursing
Dosage recommendations: Two capsules in the morning or evening
Taking a slightly different view of how best to serve your immune function and improve immune response, biOptimizers go straight to the gut.
The company’s product includes a number of pre- and probiotics, or the “good guy” type of bacteria, sourced directly from hypoallergenic rice bran. These help the body fight back any “bad guy” bacteria that may get any ideas.
The concept of a healthy gut — also called the biome — playing a central role in a healthy immune system is an increasingly popular view in the scientific community. Plus, stimulating the gut can have many other beneficial side effects, including more well-balanced hormones that lead to healthier skin, a clearer mind, and a better sleep cycle.
- Helps boost energy levels
- May take the stomach some time to get used to
Dosage recommendations: One capsule, in the morning, on an empty stomach
Sometimes, people get into situations — or plan for situations — where the likelihood of encountering some nasty germs is greater than others. (Think: taking a flight.) For those situations, there are products like Onnit’s ViruTech.
The drink powder is boosted with several vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that can help shore up the body’s natural defenses. This includes the protein L-lysine, which the body cannot make itself, and the hard-to-find vitamin D3 and all-important vitamin C.
All told the mixture helps activate and strengthen cells to fight against pathogens. And even the different flavors available add their own nutritional benefits to the mix, including the healing properties of elderberry and the immune function boost that comes from blood oranges.
- Different flavors available
- Includes hard-to-get proteins
- Mostly meant for preventative measures
Dosage recommendation: One packet in 8-12 oz. of liquid
SkinnyFit’s Skinny Greens formula is a venerable grocery list of fruits, veggies, and other superfoods that are supercharged to help promote immune function and overall health.
The company smartly utilizes several noted botanical boosters for immune health, including spinach for iron, turmeric for anti-inflammation, and chlorella powder for detoxification.
But immunity isn’t the only thing getting a boost from this mix. Energy levels and overall mood are also served by including ingredients like matcha, green tea extract, and the Ayurvedic favorite, ashwagandha, which has also been linked to lower stress levels.
And a number of other whole foods are sourced to round out the overall nutritional benefits of this drink powder, making it a particularly potent source for all types of vitamins and minerals.
- Made from 34 different superfoods
- Includes pre- and probiotics
- May stimulate bowel movements
Dosage recommendation: One scoop of powder mixed with 14 oz. of liquid
Tapping into recipes promoted by traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, Akasha Naturals brings that ancient wisdom to the modern age through its Immune Support tablets.
A long list of traditional herbs is utilized to create this mixture, including:
- Andrographis paniculata, an herb noted for its help with respiratory tract infections
- Amla fruit, which bursts with infection-fighting vitamin C
- Mulberry leaf, which has long been used in Chinese medicine to support lung health.
A number of others round out those health benefits, acting to support cells in times of stress.
Akasha Naturals is also known for their close attention to detail. The company even founded a research center dedicated to combing through history — and pioneering new research — to find the best herbal remedies.
- Vegan friendly
- All-natural ingredients
- Tablets may be hard for some people to swallow
Dosage recommendations: One tablet daily or at the onset of sickness
The human body’s immune system is one of nature’s greatest creations. So, Pure Essence didn’t stray far from the source when creating its immunity-boosting supplement.
The company utilizes some of the best natural options to conjure up a supplement truly supportive of immune function. That includes several notable adaptogens, which help the body deal with the stress and inflammation involved in fighting off germs, and some time-honored traditional herbs meant to nourish specific organs and body systems that help the body stay well.
Plus, Pure Essence makes sure these formulas are tested multiple times throughout the production process, ensuring the final product is made of the right stuff.
- Vegetarian friendly
- All-natural products
- Third-party tested
Dosage recommendations: Two tablets in the morning or evening
How We Chose Our Top 6
A healthy immune system is the bedrock of a healthy life. But equally as important as keeping your body well is choosing the right supplement brand to help.
From ingredient sourcing to information sharing, a lot goes into manufacturing a safe, trustworthy, and effective immune-boosting supplement. That’s why we look at all the details when coming up with our list of the best supplements for a healthy lifestyle on the market.
Quality Sourcing and Processing
Most people focus on the final product when looking for the best supplements. But how that product was made — and where the ingredients to make it came from — plays a massive role in just how good that final product is.
Most supplements for your immune system are made from mixtures of many different herbs, vitamins, and other compounds, which can be — and often are — sourced from different places.
We ensure that the company putting all the pieces together uses safe, organic, and ethically sourced ingredients whenever possible and assembles these various parts in a safe and sterile facility.
Every company says their product is the best on the market, but of course, this can’t be true. Looking into a product’s effectiveness is a way to look past what the brand wants you to see and think.
We examine the ingredients used in an immunity supplement and measure that against current scientific ideas to help us determine how efficient a product actually is. And verified online reviews can help round out those findings, ensuring buyers were happy with product quality and customer service.
Whether you have frequent upper respiratory infections, a vitamin C deficiency, or a zinc deficiency, you want your supplements to work — and we make sure those on our list do.
When shopping for immunity supplements, you clearly have your health in mind. But many of these products include sneaky additives and other ingredients that are far from helpful.
We ensure each product on our list utilizes all-natural, organic, ethically-sourced, or healthy botanical ingredients whenever possible. Third-party testing of products further proves that the company is supplying precisely what they’re advertising: A safe product packed with the right stuff to help you feel better.
The supplement industry is largely self-regulated, meaning there are no official benchmarks these products must meet, and safety and manufacturing practices are largely in the hands of individual businesses.
This, unfortunately, leaves plenty of room for companies selling less-than-quality products to make a cheap and easy buck. But our research has found that the best products usually come from mission-driven brands.
Driven not by money but the desire to help, these brands, by and large, are more likely to use well-sourced materials and care more, overall, about their product quality and customer satisfaction.
Importance of a Healthy Immune System
The immune system is one of the most essential systems in the body. Its primary purpose is to keep us well by protecting the body against harmful substances found in the environment, including bacteria, viruses, and other types of germs, known collectively as antigens.
To aid in this fight, the immune system is broken down into two battalions: the innate (non-specific) immune system and the adaptive (specific) immune system. Each has its own set of tasks to help ensure the body stays healthy.
Innate Immune Response
The innate system is basically the vanguard, charging out first to fight anything in the body perceived as harmful. It does this by employing a group of killer cells, or phagocytes, also known as “eating cells,” for the way they take care of unwanted antigens.
Adaptive Immune System
While the innate system has the warriors, the adaptive system is the planner. Instead of fighting new foes, the adaptive immune system works on creating antibodies explicitly made to fight off antigens the body has already dealt with. And true to its name, this system continually adapts over time. Every time a new antigen is encountered, the adaptive immune system will work out an antibody for it to be deployed if the body ever meets that specific intruder again.
When working together, these systems can work wonders, keeping the body from getting sick or shortening the length and severity of any illnesses that do come through.
How Supplements Help Boost Your Immune System
While the body generally does a great job protecting itself from intruders, it needs the right kind of supplies to do the best job possible.
Compounds like vitamin D, iron, and zinc all play huge roles in supporting immune function by boosting blood health and providing enzymes that help the body create antibodies and killer cells. Vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and selenium also help the body by providing the power to keep the immune system running.
Still, many Americans don’t get enough of these vital nutrients from their diet. And a number of other factors can lead to immune health decline, including aging, poor sleep, excess weight, and several chronic diseases.
But a well-formulated supplement that includes these beneficial vitamins and minerals (e.g., vitamin C, vitamin D, etc.) can help supply our body’s personal army with the right kind of ammunition to win the fight, no matter what condition it’s in.
How to Choose the Right Immune System Booster Supplement for You
When choosing the best type of immune-boosting supplement—or any type of herbal supplement—it’s essential to keep a number of things in mind:
- Your health. Certain illnesses — especially chronic illnesses — may cause the body to react differently to supplements.
- Any medications you take. Some herbs and other compounds commonly used to boost immune function can have harmful interactions with certain medications.
- Your diet. Most immune supplements include several vitamins, minerals, and herbs. If you’re already getting some of these from your diet, you might want to be careful about the amount you’re adding through a supplement.
- Your age/life stage. Immune health needs may fluctuate throughout life. And certain commonly included ingredients may have different reactions for pregnant women, older people, or people with certain health conditions.
It’s also essential to consider what the particular product has to offer. For example, many immune supplements add other compounds to the mix to help support other functions of the body. And these additional ingredients can wield different results, which may or may not be what you’re looking for.
For example, if you have a vitamin D deficiency, taking immunity supplements that include high vitamin D levels can help. However, if your vitamin D levels are already pretty high, vitamin D supplementation may not be ideal.
Ultimately, before starting any type of herbal supplement — even one designed to boost immune health — you should consult with a healthcare professional.
Immune health is a multi-faceted and potentially confusing subject, so some questions typically arise when considering the best type of supplemental vitamin.
Do Immune Supplements Work?
Scientists are still on the fence about how much immunity supplements may work, saying more evidence is needed.
However, some studies have shown that vitamins can help people, especially malnourished people, ward off certain diseases and other health problems. And ongoing research keeps revealing more ways to support the gut through probiotics and prebiotics, which can lead to overall better immune health.
And nearly all experts agree that other factors can also contribute to increased immune function, including a well-balanced diet and a healthy sleep schedule.
Those with a vitamin C deficiency will notice beneficial effects from vitamin C supplements. Still, it’s important to look at all ingredients included before making it part of your daily routine.
What are Immune Supplements?
Immune supplements are typically pills, powders, or capsules made from mixes of different vitamins, minerals, and other compounds. Typically, these are scientifically-crafted formulas meant to support specific aspects of the body that can help you have healthy immune cells.
Most immune supplements don’t support the immune system directly. Still, they offer multiple health benefits to help build better and stronger blood cells or aid in other ways to improve overall immune function.
For example, if you have an increased risk of upper respiratory infections, dietary supplements may help you regain adequate vitamin D levels and other healthy levels of vitamins and minerals.
Do Immune Supplements Help Prevent Respiratory Tract Infections?
Certain compounds have been proven to help the body fight off upper respiratory tract infections, including vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and zinc.
Supplements generally include at least some of these immune-enhancing minerals, which can then help add to the body’s ability to fight off respiratory virus infections.
How Do I Take Immunity Supplements?
The best way to take immune supplements varies from individual to individual and from supplement to supplement.
Most products will include specific instructions on when and how to best take them. But you should also consult with your doctor for any other suggestions on the best way to integrate immune-boosting supplements into your daily routine.
Best Supplements to Boost Immunity: Key Takeaways
Immune-enhancing properties of supplements can play a significant role in helping the body stay healthy, both through supporting systems that maintain immune function or by offering the body an extra dose of help in times of sickness.
Still, several considerations should go into finding the best immunity supplement for you.
Make sure to keep your age, general health, stage of life, diet, and any other medications in mind before making a purchase. If you have any concerns, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before starting a new herbal supplement routine.
And reading lists like this one can go a long way in narrowing down the crowded field of nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, an unregulated industry means plenty of products are far less helpful than they seem. Still, some research can go a long way toward ensuring that the supplement you get is sourced from reliable ingredients and truly formulated for your health.
This story was originally published June 10, 2022 3:30 PM.