Natural Supplements to Boost Your Immune System
It’s a known fact that eating healthy and exercising is key to maintaining good health. But sometimes we need a little extra boost. One way to get it is by taking the right supplements. Just like the name suggests, they supplement nutrients, minerals, and vitamins we need for optimal health. Here we’ll talk specifically about natural supplements you can introduce to enhance your immunity.
Just any old supplements won’t due though. We take a functional nutrition approach to everything we do at Natural Health Improvement Center of South Jersey and Natural Health Improvement Center of Des Moines, and supplements are no exception. Synthetics are just not good long-term for the body since the body needs nourishment.
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is the system that runs the body and it runs on nutrition. If your nutrition is not right for you or you are not absorbing what you are eating, the two main parts of the ANS (Parasympathetic and Sympathetic) do not work well together, organs begin to get very unhappy and dysfunction, and symptoms appear. Once you have a symptom, something has been going on in the ANS for a while and the body sends up a white flag of surrender in the form of a symptom saying, “I can’t handle this anymore. Here is your symptom. You fix it!”
We use a marriage between whole food and whole food supplements, along with herbs and homeopathy as needed to act as the genuine replacement parts the body needs to fix the underlying health issues going on. Nutritional Therapy. Food as medicine.
Here are some necessary nutrients the body needs and the supplements we recommend, especially for your immune system.
In a study by the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal, zinc was shown to reduce the duration of a cold by 42%. It assists in the development of our T cells (T lymphocytes) and activates them to fight off unwanted pathogens and bacteria in affected areas of the body.
TIP: A general recommendation is to take zinc at the first sign of symptoms like sniffles or a sore throat. We recommend Standard Process Zinc Liver Chelate, Chezyn, Livaplex, or Immuplex which all contain whole food zinc.
This superfood is an algae that can be taken as a dietary supplement. It’s a fantastic way to boost your health because it supports immune function through several properties. Spirulina’s main compound is called phycocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in your body.
TIP: You can introduce spirulina into your diet through capsules or powder. A popular way to consume the powder is to mix it with a glass of water or add it to a smoothie. We love Vital Protein’s Spirulina!
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for the human body’s development and immune function. The reason why this vitamin is so vital is that it helps fight free radicals, which cause damage to our healthy cells and contribute to disease and cancers.
TIP: This vitamin can be hard to get through food or the environment, which is why many medical professionals advocate taking a supplement. We recommend Standard Process Cataplex D.
Selenium benefits the immune system in many ways. It protects and keeps our cells healthy by preventing the damage that free radicals can cause. Additionally, this supplement contains high levels of antioxidant properties, which help reduce inflammation present in the body and boosts immunity.
TIP: Some of the highest sources of selenium are found in brazil nuts. Eating 6-8 a day can provide the recommended amount of selenium for adults.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C may be one of the most commonly mentioned vitamins people suggest when it comes to boosting immunity. Why? Because it is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep our cells healthy and functioning properly. Its calcium bearing abilities keep our bones and teeth strong and free of illnesses. We do not recommend ascorbic acid long-term. Ascorbic acid is the synthesized outer part, the preservative part of the Vitamin C complex. It works by changing the PH in the gut and killing off pathogens but it does not nourish the body.
TIP: A surprisingly easy way to get vitamin C is through fermented vegetables! Here is a list and recipes for our favorite fermented veggies! We also recommend Standard Process Cataplex C which is a whole food form of Vitamin C.
- Vitamin A
This vitamin gets an A+ for keeping our skin healthy! It’s necessary for proper immune function because our skin, including the hidden mucous membranes, is the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses.
Vitamin A also assists in healing by supporting connective tissue development. This ensures timely tissue recovery and repair, protecting us from further damage and the possible entry of unwanted pathogens into our bodies. Again, we don’t recommend synthetic forms of Vitamin A. Check the label. If it says retinyl palmitate it’s synthetic. If there are foods listed, it’s not.
TIP: Some of the best sources of vitamin A include yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, eggs, and cod liver oil. We recommend Standard Process Cod Liver Oil, Cataplex A, and Cataplex AC.
We can’t say enough good things about elderberry! Elderberry has been used for hundreds of years in traditional medicine to treat various ailments because of its effective antiviral fighting properties. Elderberries have quite a few factors that help strengthen our immune systems.
For one, this berry is rich in antioxidants that help to reduce and treat inflammation in the body. It also protects and rids the body of free radicals. Additionally, in several studies, like the one published by The Journal of International Medical Research, evidence showed patients experienced a reduction in cold and flu symptoms when taking elderberry.
Elderberry is an immune system modulator, not necessarily an immune booster. This means that wherever your immune system is functioning, elderberry will balance it. It will not spike it so it is a myth that people with autoimmune disease can’t use it. Not every herb is for everyone so of course there may be cases when this wouldn’t be the right remedy for someone. That is why we test everything individually in our practice using a non-invasive system muscle testing.
TIP: You can find elderberry syrup or lozenges as your local health food store. You can also make your elderberry dummies using the syrup and Vital Proteins Gelatin. We sell the syrup and kits to make it on your own. We also sell the gelatin. Here is our favorite DIY Elderberry Syrup Recipe.
For a delicious recipe to boost your immunity, try my Healing Elderberry Smoothie at the end of this post!
Echinacea is best taken as a preventive measure before signs of illness or infection start to display. However, it is safe and effective to take all the time and long-term. This herb contains phenols which have antioxidant properties that help fight off chest infections. Echinacea, like elderberry is an immune system modulator.
Alongside infections, it has been shown to reduce the probability of catching a cold as well as shorten the duration of respiratory symptoms associated with colds.
TIP: Echinacea tea is an easy way to consume this supplement although you have to brew it very strong to have true therapeutic benefit. We recommend Echinacea Premium from Mediherb in either tablet or liquid form. If your echinacea doesn’t make your tongue tingle when it’s in your mouth, it’s not potent enough to do anything for your immune system!
- B Vitamins
Various B vitamins have a host of beneficial properties. Here are just a few and the role they play in supporting our overall health. We prefer taking B vitamins in whole food form and together as much as possible.
B12 is essential for maintaining our metabolism because it breaks down fats and turns them into protein we use for fuel. When we are deficient in B12, we cannot get the energy and nutrients we need to sustain optimal levels of health. This can put a strain on our immune system. We recommend Standard Process Cataplex B12, Trace Mineral B12, or Fortil B12.
Folate does several jobs. It plays an essential role in forming red blood cells, assisting in the creation of DNA, and growing and managing cell function. There are a few supplements from Standard Process that contain folate including Catalyn.
Like B9, pyridoxine also aids in the development and management of red blood cells, which are an integral part of our immune system function. Keeping them healthy is a must. We recommend Standard Process Catplex B, Niacinamide B6 or B6 Niacinamide,
Pantothenic Acid (B5)
B5 helps in the development of our nervous system. This is important for our immunity because our nervous system is responsible for controlling and sending messages to our body, including messages to our immune system. We recommend Standard Process Cellular Vitality.
- Medicinal Mushrooms
Medicinal mushrooms are fungi that excel in boosting our immune system function. Fungi are potent adaptogens. What does that mean? In a nutshell, they are marvelous for reducing stress, providing mental clarity, and enhancing immune function, among many other benefits.
Some commonly found mushrooms that can reduce inflammation, stress, and boost immune response are lion’s mane, reishi, chaga, and turkey tail. These are available as capsules, mushroom tea, and mushroom powder. The latter can be added to smoothies or coffee for a boost.
Tip: Always make sure to use medically certified mushroom. Mushrooms found in nature can be poisonous and could be fatal if consumed. We recommend MediHerb Ganoderma and Shiitake and Standard Process Epimune Complex.
The Right Tools
We have the ability to take control of our health and treat our bodies right so that our immune system can protect us. We just need to give it the right tools to do its job best. With this list of 10 natural supplements to boost your immune system, you’ll be on your way to doing exactly that.
Healing Elderberry Smoothie
What’s a quick and easy way to pack a bunch of immune-boosting foods together into a delicious drink? The answer is my Healing Elderberry Smoothie. It’s quick and easy to make and could be the yummiest way you’ll ever have to give your immune system just what it needs to keep you feeling your best.
Benefits of Elderberry
Ever heard of elderberries before? It kind of sounds like a fantasy fruit, doesn’t it? While it may not be quite that, it does have superpowers. Elderberry has some pretty impressive properties that make it a potent food for boosting your immunity.
Elderberry has been a staple in traditional medicine for treating viral infections, including the common cold and flu. Why? Because this particular berry acts as a catalyst for immunity as well as contains high levels of vitamin C and necessary dietary fibers. It’s wonderful for ridding your body of inflammation by protecting your cells from free radicals that would otherwise damage healthy cells.
In addition, elderberries can increase your immunity when taken as a preventative measure, can reduce your cold symptoms, and can shorten the duration of your cold or flu. How great does that sound?
Plus, drinking this ‘magical’ drink is a natural way to boost your immune system – no drugs or medications required.
This smoothie contains a number of powerful ingredients to nourish your body and boost your immunity. It has lemon, which is not only jam-packed with vitamin C but is also well known for fighting off infections and preventing and treating the growth of bacteria.
Additionally, this smoothie has honey, which we already know helps soothe a sore throat. But did you know that honey, in its raw form, has also been used for hundreds of years to treat infections and aid in wound healing? Yup, it’s true!
My recipe calls for manuka honey, which has even more antibacterial properties than the typical honey you find at your grocers. This kind of honey can also improve oral health, ensuring your mouth has just as much good bacteria as it does bad. And manuka honey helps our digestive systems – gut health is vital for keeping our immune systems strong.
You may need to visit your local health food store to find manuka honey, but don’t worry if you can’t locate some. Organic raw honey will work just as well in this recipe.
Substitutions and Variations
If you don’t eat or are sensitive to dairy, you could try substituting the Greek yogurt with coconut yogurt or lactose-free yogurt. These are vegetarian, vegan, Whole30, and gluten-free options.
While this recipe calls for honey, you can substitute it for another sweetener like Agave nectar, molasses, maple syrup, or stevia according to your preference. Remember not to overdo it with the added sweetness. A little goes a long way.
If you want to skip the added sugar altogether, use a well ripened-banana and a dash of vanilla extract. The riper the banana, the sweeter it tastes.
For variation, you could use your favorite frozen fruit, such as raspberries or cherries.
If you have any leftover smoothie that you can’t drink right away, you can make popsicles! Just put them into popsicle molds and stick them in the freezer.
Don’t have popsicle molds on hand? No worries! Pour the remaining smoothie into an empty ice cube tray. When they’re ready, you can add a couple of little frozen cubes of goodness to your next smoothie or add a cube or two to warm oatmeal.
For another DIY option, pour the leftovers into small wax-coated paper cups, cover with plastic wrap secured with a rubber band, then insert a popsicle stick and pop it into the freezer. When it’s ready, remove the plastic and cut away the cup. If you have kids, this can be a fun activity to do together.
Now, are you ready to see the recipe? Let’s do this!
Healing Elderberry Smoothie
Drink to better immune health with this delicious smoothie. Your taste buds will be delighted, and your sore throat soothed by just the right mix of fruit and honey in this healing drink recipe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
– 1/2 cup elderberry juice
– 1/4 cup lemon juice
– 2 tablespoon organic manuka honey
– 1 cup frozen blackberries
– 1/2 cup probiotic Greek yogurt
– 1 ripe banana (frozen if possible)
- Pour the elderberry and lemon juice into a blender.
- Add remaining ingredients.
- Blend until smooth.
- Serve and enjoy.
A Delicious Way to Boost Immunity
This recipe is a delicious way to get a blast of powerful nutrients and immune-boosting benefits all in one. But don’t wait until you start to feel a cold coming on to drink it. Whip up a batch every so often to help keep your immune system functioning at its best.
If you try this recipe out, let me know what you think in the comments (tag me on Instagram @reallifeoutlaw). I’d love to see how yours turned out!
Have you tried any of these before? Do you have further questions about them? Let me know in the comments!
Be Well & Thrive!
With Love & In Health,
Sarah Outlaw, MH, MSACN
-For more information on who we are and what we do at Natural Health Improvement Center of South Jersey and Natural Health Improvement Center of Des Moines, browse the rest of our website. We offer Nutritional Coaching, Nutrition Response Testing, Functional Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, and Homeopathy. We also offer detox services including an infrared sauna, and PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field therapy mat, and foot bath(DSM office). We are on the front lines of wellness for you!
Nutrition for Optimum Immunity
Sign up to receive our free e-book.