Allen and I decided this year we would start adding daily supplements to our diet to boost our immune system because we recently went through a round of passing on the cold to each other and want to desperately avoid that again if possible! Allen and I have been trying to eat better (lo-carbs, no-sugar), exercising more (Allen has been better at this than I have been) and now adding supplements to strengthen our immune system too. I’ve always HATED taking vitamins as a kid and still to this day, HATE swallowing pills but I did some research and learned more about the benefits to taking supplements so I thought I’d share about what I’ve learned in case you were curious about the topic as well.
(Important disclaimer: PLEASE READ! If you are taking other prescribed medication, please consult with your doctor before taking any of these supplements. If you have a history of illnesses or chronic symptoms, please check with your doctor! Dosage level is super important to remember for any vitamins and supplements so don’t just think if you take a lot of these vitamins, it’s healthy for you. Please note dosage levels on everything! Please be smart and don’t just take information blindly. This is just a list of what our family decided to take specifically to strengthen our immune system. I am not a doctor, pharmacist, or any sort of expert on this subject. This is just what we have been taking for ourselves based on our own limited research so please don’t assume these would be the best supplements for you. Do your personal research please. Sorry that was really long, but just want to make sure that was clear. Thank you!)
If you’d like to know exactly which products we’re taking, simply click on the name of the supplement and it’ll take you to our affiliate links.
How does it help? B-12 is needed to make red blood cells, produce energy, synthesize DNA during cell division and to maintain normal cognitive function, especially short-term memory and mood. Basically it keeps your body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, replaces dead or damaged cells, boosts your energy and even your mood.
Food sources? It’s naturally found in animal products and not generally present in plant foods except in fortified breakfast cereals. Clams, liver, beef, trout, salmon, tuna, and milk products are all good natural sources but if you don’t get enough of those foods, try taking more B-12 supplements.
What are we taking? We have been taking Sublingual B12, in the tablet form. “Sublingual” basically means “under the tongue” that dissolves. The purpose of that is so it gets into the bloodstream without having to go through your gastrointestinal tract/stomach. B12 doesn’t have the best absorption levels in general and so I’ve been hearing about people taking it through sublingual means (dissolving tables or liquid drop form). I’ve been reading however that there isn’t much of a difference in absorption levels between sublingual and just swallowing a B12 pill but I’ve read that there is a slight difference (at least greater than 2%) so we’re just going with sublingual means for this one. One less pill I have to swallow haha.
How does it help? Also known as ascorbic acid, it’s a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses. It does a lot of great things, including lower your risk of heart disease and help prevent iron deficiency. It also encourages production of white blood cells that can help protect your body against infection. It’s also shown that taking Vitamin C may shorten wound healing time. It doesn’t prevent the common cold but it does appear to reduce the severity of colds and recovery time by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Bottom line: it will boost your antioxidant levels, lower blood pressure, improve iron absorptions, boost your immunity and reduce heart disease and dementia risk.
Food sources? Citrus fruits are the most famous source of Vitamin C but there are also other fruits and veggies that are rich in this vitamin and may even exceed the amounts found in citrus fruits. Rose hips, lychees, persimmons, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, sweet yellow peppers, green chili peppers, guavas are all great sources of Vitamin C.
What are we taking? We take Ester-C, aka Calcium Ascorbate. It’s different from ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) as it is buffered with calcium. It’s less acidic than regular vitamin C so more gentle on the stomach which is good for me because I’ve had history of stomach pains.
How does it help? Zinc is an essential nutrient/mineral, meaning that your body can’t produce or store it so that means you need to get a constant supply through your diet. It will help your immune system stay strong and if you get the common cold, it may reduce the length of it by up to 33%. It’s also commonly used in hospitals as a treatment for burns, ulcers and other skin injuries because it boosts collagen, reduces inflammation and just accelerates wound healing overall. Studies has also suggested that it can help treat acne too so try this supplement out if you’re not getting enough of it in food sources.
Food sources? Red meat, shellfish like oysters, crab, mussels and shrimp are great sources. Chickpeas, lentils and beans, cashews, hemp seeds, cheddar cheese and eggs contain a lot of zinc as well. Supposedly dark chocolate can be a source of zinc too but it’s also high in calories and sugar so eat it in moderation and not a primary source of zinc. Don’t go too crazy on this haha.
What are we taking? We take Zinc Picolinate (as opposed to Zinc Sulfate) because it’s more gentle on the stomach and can be more easily absorbed. A good thing to note is that zinc should be kept in balance with copper. You don’t need too much copper in general but if you take zinc regularly, it’ll block the absorption of your copper intake, so when your zinc goes up, so does your need for copper. The one we take includes copper.
Elderberry: (Please do not take if you are pregnant or breast feeding)
How does it help? Elderberry has been used more as a herbal remedy to treat various ailments but many people swear that Elderberry has helped them fight cold & flu symptoms or at least reduce the severity and length of it. It’s basically a flowering berry plant that’s packed with antioxidants, high in vitamin C, and known to boost your immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells.
Food sources? It comes in various forms, including syrups, capsules, lozenges and gummies. Also, never eat raw elderberries if you find them. Uncooked elderberries are poisonous! We used to order elderberry syrup by the jar directly from someone who made it at her house but since we moved away from her, we just switched to ordering gummies and syrup online.
What are we taking? The one I’m currently taking is this gummy form cuz I’m a baby and I hate pills. Once I run out of the last bottle, I’ll probably switch to the syrup form.
Chaga Mushroom: (For those with diabetes autoimmune diseases or on insulin or blood thinning medications, please consult with your doctor before taking chaga. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, best to avoid this one too.)
How does it help? Chaga is a type of mushroom that’s a nutrient-dense superfood as it’s packed with antioxidants. I learned about chaga after trying out Four Sigmatic’s Chaga Coffee and loving it. Chaga stimulates white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off harmful bacteria or viruses. There’s not enough human studies to confirm all of these benefits and determine safety, side effects and optimal dosage but for centuries people all over the world have been using chaga and really loving the results. I’ve heard doctors talk about taking chaga so that’s why I started looking into it more.
What are we taking? Recommended way to take it is in powder form. You can mix it in with your favorite smoothie, coffee or tea with some raw honey.
Children’s Probiotics with Probiotics: (For Joey)
How does it help? Both probiotics and prebiotics work to promote a healthier microbiome, for the gut, mouth, or on the skin. The difference is that, while probiotics are bacteria known to be beneficial to the body, prebiotics are nutrients that promote the growth of the good bacteria that already exist in or on your body. Prebiotics are like fertilizing a troubled patch of grass to help it grow in more fully, while probiotics are like tossing extra patches of sod on top. Allowing the good bacteria to thrive is important for maintaining a healthy balance.
Food sources? You can find probiotics in yogurt that have active or live cultures. Kimchi contains lactic acid bacteria that may benefit digestive health. We eat a lot of kimchi at our house. Including Joey! Miso, which is fermented soy bean paste, is also a source of probiotics. For prebiotics, you can find them in garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, and apples.
What is Joey taking? Joey takes one that is a chewable tablet once a day. We are thinking about adding this to Casey’s diet soon too but probably in a powered form. Still need to look into that for her…
So that’s the list of the supplements we’ve been taking. I used to take collagen pills every day (6 a day) but I’m currently on a break from them because it was just too many for me. It’s been almost a month so far taking these and I already feel so much more energized. (I think it’s the B12!) Anyway, hope this was helpful. Please again, don’t take this as something you need to take for yourself. This is just what we felt we personally wanted to start taking based on our physical needs. If there are any other supplements you recommend, please write them below in the comments! Thank you!