Whether you’re fighting off an infection or combating a cold, adding a few immune-boosting vitamins to your routine can be incredibly beneficial. In fact, certain vitamins, minerals, and supplements have been shown to fine-tune immune function, enhance antibody production and alleviate inflammation to keep you feeling your absolute best.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the top immune-boosting supplements and how they can benefit your health, along with some simple suggestions for how to use them.
Vitamins to strengthen your immune system
Many vitamins have been shown to help boost your body’s ability to fend off infection. Here are a few of the top immune-boosting vitamins.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a central role in immune function and is often used to help bump up your body’s defenses against infection. Impressively enough, one 2006 trial in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism even found that getting enough vitamin C in your diet could help decrease symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory infections.
Dosage recommendation: 75–90 milligrams for women and men, respectively
2. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is crucial for health and immune system function, and deficiency can increase infection risk. Opt for vitamin D3 over other forms for optimal vitamin D status.
Dosage recommendation: 400–800 international units
3. Vitamin A
This fat-soluble vitamin is vital for maintaining healthy vision, supporting skin health, and promoting proper growth and development. What’s more, vitamin A is also crucial for the development of certain immune cells necessary to fight inflammation and infection, earning it a slot as one of the best supplements to boost the immune system.
Dosage recommendation: 700–900 retinol activity equivalents for women and men, respectively
4. Vitamin E
Vitamin E doubles as both a fat-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals and prevent oxidative damage to the cells. As one of the top immune-boosting vitamins, studies show that supplementation with vitamin E could enhance immune function, boost the production of white blood cells, and increase resistance against infection.
Dosage recommendation: 15 milligrams
5. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 may boost immune function in critically ill patients, with a two-week increase in immune response. However, deficiencies can reduce antibody production, potentially reducing immunity.
Dosage recommendation: 1.2–1.7 milligrams
Several minerals have been studied for their impact on immune function and their abilities to bump up the body’s natural defense system. Here are some of the best minerals for immune health.
Often considered one of the most effective immune-boosting supplements, zinc is crucial to maintaining overall health. Research shows that zinc helps regulate the immune response and is necessary for the survival, proliferation, and maturation of immune cells.
Clinical trials have also found that getting enough zinc in your daily diet can reduce the incidence and improve the outcome of serious conditions, like pneumonia and malaria.
Dosage recommendation: 8–11 milligrams for women and men, respectively
Although it’s most well-known for its role in red blood cell production and oxygen transport, iron is also considered one of the best immune-boosting supplements as well.
Studies show that iron deficiency anemia can impair the body’s immune response, which could potentially ramp up the risk of illness and infection. Women, infants, children, and those following a vegan or vegetarian diet may be at an increased risk of deficiency.
Dosage recommendation: 8–18 milligrams for men and women, respectively
Selenium is a powerful micronutrient that acts as an antioxidant to neutralize harmful free radicals and decrease cell damage. In addition to initiating immunity, studies show that selenium may also be involved in regulating excessive immune responses to prevent widespread inflammation.
One review in Lancet also noted that low intake of selenium may be associated with several adverse effects on health, including poor immune function, cognitive decline, and an increased risk of mortality.
Dosage recommendation: 400 micrograms
In addition to the immune-boosting vitamins and minerals listed above, several other supplements may also be beneficial for immune function. Here are a few of the top immune-boosting supplements to consider adding to your routine.
1. Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup, derived from Sambucus tree berries, is a natural immune-boosting supplement with health-promoting polyphenols. It’s used to treat flu symptoms and speed up recovery, with studies showing it shortens flu duration and may help with upper respiratory symptoms.
Dosage recommendation: 1 tablespoon up to four times daily
Probiotics are a form of beneficial bacteria found in the digestive tract. Probiotic supplements have been linked to a long list of health benefits, including enhanced digestion, decreased cholesterol levels, and, most notably, improved immune function.
In fact, studies show that probiotics regulate the function of certain immune cells and may even be beneficial for immune-related conditions, ranging from viral infections to allergies and eczema.
Dosage recommendation: 10–100 billion colony-forming units
In addition to providing curries, soups, and sauces with a vibrant hue, turmeric has also been extensively studied for its potent medicinal properties.
In particular, curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric, has been found to reduce inflammation, enhance antibody responses and modulate immune function, which may provide protection against conditions like heart disease, allergies, arthritis, and diabetes.
Dosage recommendation: 500–2,000 milligrams of turmeric extract
4. Holy Basil
Also known as tulsi or Ocimum tenuiflorum, holy basil is commonly used as an adaptogen to help improve the way that your body reacts and adapts to stress. This impressive herb also boasts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and immunomodulatory effects and may be therapeutic for viral infections, cognitive function and certain metabolic disorders.
Dosage recommendation: 300–2,000 milligrams
5. Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano essential oil is a popular vegan immune-boosting supplement with healing properties, particularly in fighting infections. Studies show its antiviral efficacy against MNV and inactivating certain pathogenic bacteria strains.
Dosage recommendation: Dilute one drop in four ounces of liquid
Risks and Side Effects
Supplementation can increase vitamin, mineral, and health-promoting compounds intake, but should not replace a well-rounded diet. Nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes provide essential nutrients for immune health, including fiber, heart-healthy fats, and antioxidants. Consult a doctor before adding supplements to a routine with underlying health conditions or medications.
- Several supplements have been shown to help support immune health.
- Some of the top immune-boosting vitamins include vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D3 and vitamin E.
- Meanwhile, zinc, iron and selenium can help enhance immune function, protect against cell damage and fight infection.
- Other immune-boosting supplements include elderberry syrup, probiotics, turmeric, holy basil and oregano essential oil.
- For best results, be sure to pair these supplements with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle.
- Additionally, if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications, talk to your doctor before starting supplementation.