10 Best Supplements to Boost Your Immune System (2023)
Do supplements actually work? Some supplements do have increasing evidence and some don't. There are many guides out there but most of them are product centric, do not incorporate the latest and up to date evidence.
The intention of this guide is to help you make sense of the options and to separate the facts from fiction.However, note that some supplements can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. Some may not be appropriate for people with certain health conditions. Be sure to talk with a healthcare professional before starting any supplements.
1. Vitamin D
In all cases, the data consistently show that low vitamin D levels raises your risk of COVID while higher baseline levels and/or supplementation lowers all risks by 1.5 to three times.
Almost all studies consider a vitamin D blood serum level of >30 ng/mL ‘adequate/good’. Several studies have shown that people with a blood serum level of >50 ng/mL hardly get sick at all.
2. Quercetin - Anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulant, zinc ionophore and anti-viral
3. Zinc - Anti-viral
Improving zinc intake/zinc status improves/modulates/enhances immune function. The flip side is, while some aspects of immunity slow, others increase. Uncontrolled immune responses drive excess inflammation. Zinc helps to balance all of this.
“Zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence and is required for proper sense of taste and smell.”
The use of zinc for SARS-CoV-2 was a topic routinely flagged by COVID fact checkers as “misinformation,” so word didn’t really get out about its potential as an anti-COVID agent. However, there are more than 35 studies that provided evidence on zinc’s promise for keeping people healthy if they get COVID.
The reason for this is because HCQ is a zinc ionophore (zinc transport molecule), meaning it’s a drug that improves your cells’ uptake of zinc. Once inside your cells, zinc prevents viral replication. This is also why zinc and zinc ionophores need to be taken very early in the illness, or as a prophylactic.
The problem is that zinc is largely insoluble and cannot easily enter through the fatty wall of your cells. Getting all the way into the cell is crucial, as this is where the viral replication occurs. This is why zinc ionophores are so important.
Aside from hydroxychloroquine, other natural, and safer, zinc ionophores include quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG). If given early, zinc along with a zinc ionophore should, at least theoretically, help lower the viral load and prevent the immune system from becoming overloaded.
Excessive doses may interfere with copper absorption, which could negatively affect your immune system as it can cause copper deficiencies, blood disorders and potentially permanent nerve damage. Zinc can also impair the absorption of antibiotics, and use of zinc nasal gels or swabs has been linked to temporary or permanent loss of smell.
“In one study, 300mg/day of zinc as two divided doses of 150 mg zinc sulfate decreased important markers of immune function, such as the ability of immune cells known as polymorphonuclear leukocytes to migrate toward and consume bacteria.
The most concerning effect in the context of COVID-19 is that it lowered the lymphocyte stimulation index 3 fold. This is a measure of the ability of T cells to increase their numbers in response to a perceived threat. The reason this is so concerning in the context of COVID-19 is that poor outcomes are associated with low lymphocytes …
The negative effect on lymphocyte proliferation found with 300 mg/day and the apparent safety in this regard of 150 mg/d suggests that the potential for hurting the immune system may begin somewhere between 150-300 mg/d …
It is quite possible that the harmful effect of 300 mg/d zinc on the lymphocyte stimulation index is mediated mostly or completely by induction of copper deficiency …
The negative effect of zinc on copper status has been shown with as little as 60 mg/d zinc. This intake lowers the activity of superoxide dismutase, an enzyme important to antioxidant defense and immune function that depends both on zinc and copper …
A study done with relatively low intakes of zinc suggested that acceptable ratios of zinc to copper range from 2:1 to 15:1 in favor of zinc. Copper appears safe to consume up to a maximum of 10 mg/d.
Notably, the maximum amount of zinc one could consume while staying in the acceptable range of zinc-to-copper ratios and also staying within the upper limit for copper is 150 mg/d.”
4. Nigella Sativa (Black Seed Oil) and Cytokine Storm - Anti-inflammatoryNigella sativa (N. sativa) is a small flowering plant that grows in Southwest Asia, the Middle East, and Southern Europe (Source). This shrub produces fruit with tiny black seeds. Commonly referred to as black seed, N. sativa seeds go by many other names, such as black cumin, black caraway, nigella, fennel flower, and Roman coriander (Source).
Black seed oil is extracted from N. sativa seeds and has been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years due to its many therapeutic benefits.
5. Melatonin- Anti-inflammatory and anti-viral
Check out the evidence tracker on melatonin and COVID-19 from c19melatonin.com (constantly updated). As of January 2023, there are more than 15 published clinical studies of melatonin for treatment and prevention in COVID-19 and the results are promising even when it's given as a late treatment.
Studies have not evaluated melatonin supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but some research suggests that these supplements might inhibit ovarian function (Source). Therefore, some experts recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid taking melatonin.
6. Vitamin A
Based on this early treatment mortality studies drug league table below, vitamin A might even out-perform vitamin D, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine:
7. Curcumin and Turmeric - Anti-inflammatory and anti-viral
Curcumin, a yellow carotenoid from turmeric, is a nutritional therapeutic recommended as part of the FLCCC I-CARE early treatment protocol, and has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune modulating properties.
There are more than 20 completed studies of curcumin in COVID-19 that suggest that it improves clinical outcome of patients.
Curcumin also acts as natural zinc ionophores and can promote the cellular uptake of zinc and can be used with zinc to increase the effectiveness of these compounds in the inhibition of the virus (Ref).
Curcumin has been demonstrated (Ref) to suppress several inflammatory cytokines and mediators of their release such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), IL-1, IL-8 and nitric oxide synthase.
8. Vitamin C - Anti-inflammatory
Vitamin C, which most of us reach for with any cold or flu, was used in high doses to great effect by COVID-19 early treatment doctors.
Vitamin C may be one of the most well-known immune nutrients that protect against immune deficiencies and which supports the prevention and recovery from the common cold and upper-respiratory issues, and also protects your cardiovascular system, eyes, skin, and other parts of your body. Research has found that vitamin C may help to optimize the immune system.
Do take note that the vitamin C dosages given in the hospitals intravenously are different from those over the counter vitamin C supplements. Therefore, when you come across studies on vitamin C, you need to differentiate those that are given intravenously vs oral vitamin C.
Vitamin C and COVID-19
Check out the evidence tracker on vitamin C and COVID-19 from c19vitaminc.com (constantly updated).
Safety: The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 to 120 milligrams per day. Taking large doses of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on a regular basis lowers your level of copper, so if you are already deficient in copper and take high doses of vitamin C, you can compromise your immune system.
While generally considered safe even in high doses, way too much vitamin C — anything above 2,000 milligrams daily—can cause headaches, insomnia, diarrhea, heartburn, and other issues.
Temporarily taking megadoses of vitamin C supplements to combat a case of the cold or flu is likely not going to cause a problem.
Many vitamin C supplements that are above the US RDA are sold in the market. It’s important to seek a physician’s advice if you intend to take high dose vitamin C on a long term basis. To be on the safe side, you may also request for your kidney functions to be monitored.
For long-term, daily use, your best bet is to eat a diet that is full of high quality organic vegetables and fruits that are minimally processed. Not only will you get vitamin C, but you will get all the other accessory nutrients and micronutrients that are needed to optimize it.
Vitamin C, Omicron and Deltacron
Will Vitamin C Work Against Omicron or Deltracron? Vitamin C is not variant specific because it's primary mode of action is to support the body’s immune system which reacts in a variety of ways against viral attack, not just in a specific antibody reaction to a specific spike protein.
Related: Best Vitamin C Supplement
Temporarily taking megadoses of vitamin C supplements to combat a case of the cold or flu is likely not going to cause a problem.
9. NAC, Glutathione and COVID-19 - Anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant
Much of the research on NAC has used an inhaled, liquid form of this compound. This form—which is classified as a drug, not a dietary supplement—is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a mucolytic agent and for decreasing respiratory secretion viscosity (Source). Products containing NAC are also sold as dietary supplements.
Consider taking around 500 milligrams/day of NAC, as it helps prevent blood clots and is a precursor for your body to produce the important antioxidant glutathione.
10. Probiotics and COVID-19 - Anti-inflammatory
You can find a list of more than 20 published clinical studies on probiotics and COVID-19 from c19probiotics.com (constantly updated). However, with an overall improvement of 25% for all studies, the improvement rate is not as impressive as the other natural alternatives i.e. quercetin, black seed oil and vitamin A, based on the aggregated analysis on C19early.org. However, the improvement rate of 61% (based on 8 studies) has made probiotics ranked No. 6 in the COVID-19 all mortality (death rate) studies league table, better than ivermectin and quercetin.
6 Factors That Affect Your ImmunityThe various cells in the immune system work together in a precise way to complete the mechanism of fighting the enemy. So what factors affect the strength of the immune system?
The immune system gradually weakens with age, mainly because the aging of the thymus and bone marrow leads to reduced production of T cells and B cells. Therefore, the immunity that the elderly acquire through vaccination is lower than that of young people and children.
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is one of the keys to boosting immunity. The production of immune cells, antibodies, and coenzymes in the human body requires raw materials, all of which come from the daily intake of food.
Adequate sleep can strengthen a person’s immunity, and numerous studies have proven that sleep is highly linked to immune function. For example, Carnegie Mellon University once conducted a study that found that people with poor sleep quality were prone to colds. Additionally, other studies on immunity have found that after vaccination, people who get enough sleep have higher levels of antibodies in their bodies than those who do not get enough sleep.
Long-term use of some medications, such as steroids, can suppress the body’s immune response and reduce its ability to fight germs. If the body is infected during this period, the course of the disease will be prolonged.
Regular exercise can speed up the body’s metabolism, promote blood circulation, and boost immunity. In addition, studies have shown that activities such as jing zuo (sitting still) and meditation can increase the number of immune system substances, such as interleukin (communication mediator between immune cells), tumor necrosis factor, etc.
When a person is under stress, the body produces a higher-than-normal level of cortisol. A brief increase in cortisol can boost immunity. However, over time, the body can get used to having too much cortisol in the blood, which weakens the immune system and hinders T-cell proliferation.
- Wear protective face mask. This is to protect not only yourself but others.
- Abundant evidence suggests that eating whole in fruits, vegetables and whole grains—all rich in networks of naturally occurring antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against free radicals.
- Getting Enough Sleep
- Avoid Sugar, red meat and processed foods.
- Don't smoke.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress.
- Drink enough water to keep your body hydrated.
- Avoid excess alcohol.
- Avoid crowded areas.
- Regular physical activity (outdoor activities may not be allowed in countries with 'lock-down').
- Consult your nearest local healthcare provider if you have any doubt.