It seems like every flu season there is a new immune system supplement claiming that it will boost immunity and prevent you from getting sick. Now, with the spread of COVID-19, this phenomenon has hit an all-time high. Apple cider vinegar pills, essential oils, and elderberry gummies are flooding social media with claims like these:
“…proven to boost your immune health!”*
“This is the only supplement that may prevent you from getting the coronavirus.”*
“My whole family takes these [pills] to prevent infections”.*
*All real claims observed on Instagram
How do you know who to believe? Who ‘proved’ these claims and where is the research to back them up? You probably know that the most important thing to do is look at the ingredient list/fact panel, but what should you be looking for? Here’s how to tell if an immune system supplement is legitimate or a scam.
Can the Immune Supplement Claims Be Backed Up With Research?
This is the most important factor to consider when picking out and immune system supplement. What are the main ingredients and what is the supplement claiming to do? Have these claims been backed up by quality research? Checking this is simple. You can start by conducting a search on Google Scholar or Pubmed directly. Can you find human studies/clinical trials and what were the outcomes? If you can find high-quality evidence backing to back up these claims, then you can move onto the next question.
Is the Supplement Label Transparent?
Are all of the ingredients listed and if so, are the amounts listed? If it is a proprietary blend, that means that you may not be getting as much of the supplement as you may need for it to be effective.
Trust your instincts! If a supplement seems sketchy, stay away! Remember that supplements (even immune system supplements) are not FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulated. The ingredients in it could do more harm than good so just avoid it altogether.
Is the Supplement In Its Most Effective Form?
Many supplements can come in different forms. For example, you can purchase vitamin B12 as either cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin. While cyanocobalamin is the most commonly used in vitamins/multi-vitamins, it is far less efficacious than methylcobalamin due to its low bioavailability. The same principles apply to immune system supplements. Make sure that the product you are purchasing is in its most efficacious form.
Is the Supplement In Its Most Effective Dose?
Even if there is plenty of research to back up a specific supplement, the label is transparent, and it is in its most efficacious form, all of that means nothing if the dose is incorrect. If the dose is too low, the supplement will likely not have any effect. If the dose is too high, this could cause serious medical harm in some cases. While researching the ingredients themselves, make sure to take note of what doses are the safest and most efficacious.
Want to Skip the Research Step and Find Out the Best Immune System Supplement to Take According to Science?
For a complete, in-depth break down of your immune system and how to boost immunity, check out our ebook Immune System Supplements: The Science Behind Preventing Sickness.
This ebook includes:
- A comprehensive breakdown of your immune system, how it functions, and different immune cells
- 13 science-backed immune supplements, including how they function, standard doses, and research validating claims about that specific product
- Ways to naturally boost your immune health through lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, stress, and sleep
Chelsea Malone works as a researcher in the field of health and performance supplementation. She contributes science-based articles and information to Ketogenic.com. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida and her Master of Science in Medical Sciences from the University of South Florida. Her specialties are in biochemistry, immunology, and pathophysiology. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, and reading.