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Supplements That Support Immune Function

Supplements That Support Immune Function

Cold season is upon us, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about ways to optimise immune function to help keep seasonal illness at bay. Let’s have a look at some natural remedies that can help support our immune systems!


Echinacea is a flower in the daisy family, and is commonly used as a natural remedy to relieve cold and flu symptoms! It is thought to stimulate the immune system and improve immunity, and studies have shown that the plant has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. They are loaded with antioxidants, and have been found to potentially have a preventative effect on the incidence of upper respiratory infections - so taking echinacea tablets may reduce the risk of catching a cold!


Not only does it taste delicious, but it may also be beneficial for our health! Garlic, or specifically a compound found in garlic called Allicin, has been found to enhance the function of the immune system by stimulating certain cell types such as those that kill viruses and harmful bacteria. Although you can add garlic to your favourite dishes, it can be found in the form of tablets and capsules at higher concentrations so that you can reap all the benefits!


Ginseng is mainly known for its role as an adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stress, but it may also have beneficial effects for immune function! One study found that when compared with a placebo, Korean Ginseng supplementation can increase the number of immune cells in healthy subjects! More immune cells essentially means you have more protection against harmful bacteria and viruses - who wouldn’t want that?! 


Elderberry may help treat cold and flu symptoms as it contains active chemicals that have been shown to enhance immune function and exhibit antiviral effects. Having elderberry supplements at the onset of upper respiratory symptoms has even been shown to reduce the overall duration of symptoms! Although it will not reduce the risk of developing the common cold, it may contribute to shorter and less severe colds. So next time you feel a tickle in your throat, try some elderberry tablets!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin which is commonly associated with immune support. This is because it is an antioxidant, which helps to reduce free radical damage. It also exerts beneficial effects on the cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. One impressive function of vitamin C is that it can move immune cells to infection sites which enhances the killing of harmful microbes - this can increase the rate of clearance whilst also protecting tissue from excessive damage! So make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C through your diet or with the help of a supplement!

Manuka Honey

Honey is often used to soothe a sore throat, and is perfect in tea, on your breakfast, or even in the form of lozenges! Manuka honey is a specific type of honey made from bees that pollinate the Manuka bush in New Zealand, and it is well known for its antiviral and antimicrobial effects. Studies show that Manuka honey has the capacity to induce immunomodulatory responses - meaning it can improve our immune system function. When it comes to Manuka honey, a higher MGO number corresponds to a higher level of plant phenols in the jar, a higher level of plant phenols means more powerful effects. So if you want to try Manuka honey for immune health, opt for a high MGO!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a nutrient that plays an essential role in immune function due to important interactions between the vitamin and cells of the innate and adaptive immune system. For instance, it enhances the antimicrobial effects of macrophages and monocytes, which work to fight pathogens. Low vitamin D levels can therefore be detrimental to immune health, so it is important to get enough vitamin D through sunlight, food, and supplements!


N-Acetylcysteine, aka NAC, is a supplement form of the amino acid cysteine. It is a precursor for glutathione, which is the most potent antioxidant found in the body. NAC supplementation has been proven to enhance immune defences especially when cysteine and glutathione levels are low. Cysteine can be found in foods such as chicken, turkey, dairy products, eggs, and some seeds and legumes, but it can also be taken in as a supplement.

The bottom line

Although these supplements aren’t necessarily going to prevent you from catching a cold altogether, they can be great for supporting immune function which can help reduce the intensity of your symptoms as well as the duration of illness. If you are worried about catching a cold this winter - why not come prepared by making sure your immune system is at its best?!

What’s your best tip for staying healthy during the cold season? Let us know in the comments below!
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