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August 6, 2021 — 21:32 PM
The immune system has experienced a renaissance of interest in our current world for, well, obvious reasons. Similarly, supplements that boost immunity have risen in popularity and use. And while it took a global health crisis to make immunity top of mind for many of us, mindbodygreen has always considered a strong immune system to be a pivotal cornerstone of overall health & well-being.
We believe that immune health is rooted in key lifestyle strategies, like a nutrient-dense dietary pattern, quality sleep, moving often, and helping keep stress in check. Targeted, high-quality supplements also fit into this larger holistic picture of immune resilience.*
It can be overwhelming to navigate the labyrinth of immune health supplements out there and differentiate one product from another. That’s why mindbodygreen did the work for you. I’m a Ph.D. scientist and registered dietitian (and mbg’s director of scientific affairs) who personally specializes in nutrition product development and innovation, so I was happy to help round up, critically analyze, and share the best options.
You’ll not only find our top 14 supplements for immune health, but also, streamlined tips on what to look for vs. avoid, plus practical insights on complementary lifestyle strategies to support your immune system.
What to look for (and avoid) with immunity supplements.
Before we dive in to recommendations, here’s what I consider when I’m looking for a high-quality immune supplement:
Key nutrients to support your immune system:
- Micronutrients known to support immune cell development and/or function:* vitamin D3, vitamin C, zinc, selenium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B6, etc.
- Antioxidant support to combat oxidative stress:* vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, quercetin, glutathione, resveratrol, NAC, turmeric, SGS, marine omega-3s (EPA & DHA), etc.
- Botanicals or other bioactives that support immune resilience and strength:* quercetin, beta-glucan, resveratrol, echinacea, elderberry, certain mushrooms, curcumin from turmeric root, garlic, ginger, green tea extract, marine omega-3s (EPA & DHA).
- Nutrients and botanicals with anti-inflammatory properties:* quercetin, vitamin D3, marine omega-3s (EPA & DHA), proresolving mediators from fish oil, curcumin from turmeric root
- Targeted support for gut health (i.e., the largest immune organ in the body):* prebiotic fibers (e.g., flax seed, inulin, etc.), key probiotic strains (e.g., B. lactis Bi-07, B. lactis B420, B. lactis HN019, L. acidophilus NCFM), antioxidants, L-glutamine, collagen peptides, etc.
- Sub-efficacious doses: In other words, clinically irrelevant levels of immune supportive nutrients. You want meaningful doses for potency in the body. Take zinc for example. Daily zinc needs are 8 to 11 mg (8 mg for women, 11 mg for men). For a daily zinc supplement, I look for the 8-20 mg range. A well-formulated immune support complex or multivitamin will include zinc in that range typically.
- Gummy vitamins: Unless absolutely required for the ease of consumption (e.g., child deliverables like standalone vitamin C), gummy vitamins deliver sugar and other excipients that capsules, tablets, gelcaps, etc. simply don’t. For some supplements, gummies are fine. For potent immune complexes, not so much.
- Lazy excipients: You’ll find these on the “other ingredients” section of the label. Watch out for processed ingredients, artificial or synthetic flavors and colors, coatings, shellacs, GMOs, gluten, soy, and other allergens.
- Irresponsible claims: Brands who make bogus marketing or science claims regarding immunity and their supplement should be treated with great caution.
- Lack of transparency: If the brand isn’t an open book when it comes to their ingredient and product quality (e.g., purity and potency), swipe left.
Immune health supplements: Proactive vs. reactive approaches.
For daily immune system support, a high-quality supplement should include a strategic combination of one or more immune-supporting nutrients and botanical bioactives in meaningful, science-driven doses.* For a more reactive approach, some products will feature higher potency (“mega dosing”) of actives.
mindbodygreen collectively (and I personally) prefer the former approach, because being proactive and mindful of supporting our oh-so-active immune system on a daily basis is the best way to bolster your natural defenses and positively influence your immune health trajectory.*
Best supplements for supporting your immune system.
- Best all around daily immune supplement: immune support+, mindbodygreen
- Best antioxidant immune supplement: Immune Active, Metagenics
- Best phytonutrient immune supplement: HTB Rejuvenate, Big Bold Health
- Best probiotic for immune health: Ultra Strength Probiotic 10, Nature’s Bounty
- Best postbiotic immune supplement: PureDefense w/NAC, Pure Encapsulations
- Best immunity combo pack: Immune Support Packets, designs for health
- Best vegan immune formula: Immune Defense, MegaFood
- Best for immune response: Balanced Immune, Pure Encapsulations
- Best immune lozenge: Immuno-Zn Lozenge, designs for health
- Best liquid immune formula for adults: Immune Intensive, Seeking Health
- Best sugar-free immune syrup for kids: Kids Organic Elderberry Syrup, Garden of Life
- Best fizzy drink immune stick packs: ImmuneMAX, Nature Made
- Best chewable immune probiotic for kids: KidsProbiotic, Physician’s Choice
- Best immune supplement for infants and toddlers: Baby Immune Support & Vitamins, Zarbee’s Naturals
Best all around daily immune supplement
Invested in supporting mindbodygreen family’s immune health, mbg created immune support+, your daily essential as the world opens back up. In this breakthrough immune complex, you’ll find the leading plant phytonutrient duo quercetin phytosome and Wellmune® beta-glucan for immune resilience and strength. These two powerhouse bioactives are supported by a foundational trio of immune-essential micronutrients vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc bisglycinate, to combat oxidative stress and support your immune cells’ many critical daily functions. mbg’s curated 5-in-1 approach is delivered in just one serving per day, with a clean formula that’s GMO-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. This is your proactive, daily immune support solution. Our immune systems don’t take a day off, so why should we?*
immune support+, mindbodygreen ($60)
Best antioxidant immune supplement
In analyzing this multi-ingredient immune supplement by Metagenics, a pattern quickly emerges: Antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and green tea extract (decaf) featuring catechins and EGCG headline for this formula, with quercetin, vitamin C, and zinc bringing up the rear. NAC is required to make glutathione (a major antioxidant) in the body, and collectively this antioxidant-heavy formula (that’s GMO-free and gluten-free) supports the body’s own endogenous detoxification processes, combats free radicals, and reduces oxidative stress to support the immune system and its functions. The clinical science for green tea extract and immunity still has some ripening to do, but this ingredient delivers antioxidant power nonetheless.*
Immune Active, Metagenics ($37)
Best phytonutrient immune supplement
This relative newcomer product from Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., the “Father of Functional Medicine” and mbg collective member, is an immune supplement from Big Bold Health that supports rejuvenation of the immune response. This product brings an ancient grain, tartary buckwheat (the Himalayan variety, specifically), back to the forefront. This vintage grain is rich in flavonoids and other phytochemicals and bioactives (quercetin, hesperidin, luteolin, rutin, chlorophyllin, and 2-HOBA) specific to the buckwheat plant. A proprietary portfolio of phytonutrients, if you will. You also get a small amount (16 mg) of vitamin C. I don’t generally love the nebulous of blends, but the formula is unique and high quality (GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian).*
HTB Rejuvenate, Big Bold Health ($65)
Big Bold Health
Best probiotic for immune health
Considering 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, probiotics are a valuable immunity tool, too. This particular probiotic by Nature’s Bounty features 10 unique strains to support healthy immune function and upper respiratory health. The total live culture colony-forming units (CFU) count is 20 billion, which is spread across 10 unique strains. I like that this supplement is GMO-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian.*
Ultra Strength Probiotic 10, Nature’s Bounty ($26)
Best postbiotic immune supplement
Next up, a postbiotic. This combination of ingredients is useful as a first line defense support strategy for immune function and responses according to Pure Encapsulations. The product is GMO-free and gluten-free, and it’s hallmark feature is definitely the yeast-derived postbiotic by EpiCor®. This hero ingredient is joined by 250 mg of vitamin C, 1,000 IU of vitamin D3, 7.5 mg of zinc citrate, 25 mg of quercetin, NAC, and elderberry extract. For bioavailability reasons, mbg prefers zinc bisglycinate and quercetin in the phytosome form, but the formats used here are OK runner-ups. For on-the-go, this supplement comes in a blister pack ($15) (albeit not the most eco-friendly approach). With 20 capsules, that’s 10 days worth, since the serving size is 2 capsules.*
PureDefense w/NAC, Pure Encapsulations ($62)
Best immunity combo pack
This gluten- and soy-free immune pack by Designs For Health includes 5 different supplement products (equaling 8 capsules), including immune-critical micronutrients (think: vitamin C, D, zinc) to an array of botanicals (echinacea, astragalus, andrographis, elderberry, green tea extract, key mushrooms) and stand-alone NAC for antioxidant support. I like the array of fruit-based bioflavonoids that complement their vitamin C, plus it includes a lineup of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). However, the 8-capsule serving size is tad daunting, especially if you take other supplements daily, too.*
Immune Support Packets, designs for health ($115)
Designs for health
Best vegan immune formula
For this immune supplement, MegaFood recommends consumers take 2 tablets three times a day for 5 days, when you need more intensely-focused immune care and support. In their words, “when you need it most.” If you take this product at their recommended frequency, you’d be getting 750 mg of vitamin C a day, 15 mg of zinc bisglycinate daily, and potent doses of three botanicals (elderberry, echinacea, and andrographis extracts) too. This vegan supplement is also GMO-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and Kosher. However, in my opinion, excluding vitamin D3 in an intensive immune formula seems like a miss. And while designed for short-term use, it does require some dedication (3 times a day).*
Immune Defense, MegaFood ($15)
Best for immune response
This unique, botanical-heavy formula combines vitamin D3, turmeric phytosome, broccoli sprout concentrate, resveratrol from Japanese knotweed, black ginger extract, and quercetin. Per Pure Encapsulations, this GMO-free and gluten-free formula provides, “foundational support for healthy cellular response, antioxidant status and cytokine balance.” However, they don’t use quercetin is not in the phytosome form (i.e., better absorption in the body). I’ll point out that the vitamin D3 is sourced from lanolin (derived from shearing sheep’s wool), which is a fine source and may be vegetarian (as the website states), but it’s certainly not vegan.*
Balanced Immune, Pure Encapsulations ($53)
Best immune lozenge
Sometimes you just need a lozenge. This one dissolves in your mouth with a mixed berry flavor, using natural flavors and monk fruit extract (plus sugar alcohols) as sweeteners, netting zero grams of sugar. I like that this lozenge features just two ingredients. It combines a hefty dose of zinc (in gluconate and citrate forms) at 25 mg (still, no zinc bisglycinate, but OK), plus 100 mg of elderberry fruit extract. This lozenge is GMO-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. Although almost always necessary for lozenges or other forms that melt in one’s mouth, they include 2 sugar alcohols (xylitol and mannitol). Some people can be gut-sensitive to sugar alcohols, so just a call out for those folks.*
Immuno-Zn Lozenge, designs for health ($28)
Designs For Health
Best liquid immune formula for adults
This liquid formula (1 teaspoon is the serving size) by Seeking Health is a potency and absorption play with micellized micronutrients (i.e., sunflower lecithin + micronutrients = micelles, which theoretically increase the absorption of those nutrients in the gut). The ingredients also have immune health/function support roles in the body, namely vitamins A (5,000 IU), C (500 mg), D3 (5,000 IU), K2 (150 mcg) and zinc (20 mg). Since the supplement includes potent doses for all 5 nutrients, this seems like a solutions-oriented (perhaps situational/seasonal) product, not daily, because these nutrients and levels would be redundant or even excessive with a multivitamin. Don’t forget to shake before using, refrigerate after, and honor the expiration date!*
Immune Intensive, Seeking Health ($40)
Best sugar-free immune syrup for kids
This immune syrup by Garden of Life is designed for immune support in children 4 years and older (obviously with adult supervision). It features three organic botanicals: mostly black elderberry fruit extract, less acerola cherry fruit extract, and a tiny bit (10 mg) of aronia berry. These fruits yield 10 mg of vitamin C, which sounds trivial, but the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 25 mg per day for children ages 4 to 8 years and 45 mg a day for children ages 9 to 13 years. So, 10 mg is useful, particularly if they’re getting more vitamin C in a multivitamin. I applaud the “other ingredients” list, which is clean and creative. Along with being GMO-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, this syrup is certified USDA organic, sugar-free, and vegetarian. Refrigerate after opening and pay attention to the expiry.*
Kids Organic Elderberry Syrup, Garden of Life ($30)
Garden of Life
Best fizzy drink immune packs
This fizzy drink mix by Nature Made is an immune-centric supplement you add to a beverage. Its orange flavor is naturally-derived, and the orange color comes from natural ingredient sources, too (turmeric and vegetable juice). Along with a potent dose (2,000 mg) of vitamin C, there’s 1,000 IU of vitamin D3, 20 mg of zinc ascorbate, seven B vitamins (to support cellular energy metabolism), manganese, and key electrolytes too (sodium, potassium and magnesium). This seems like a more occasional, situational play that’s good to have up your sleeve. FYI, one stick pack is 30 calories (OK), but this is all from 7 g of total carbs, 6 g of which are added sugars (fructose). If your health situation involves care with sugar intake, a capsule-based immune supplement might be a better strategy.*
ImmuneMAX, Nature Made ($11)
Best chewable immune probiotic for kids
This chewable immune-centric probiotic is my top choice for children (designed for 4 years and up) because it contains 5 billion CFU of shelf-stable probiotic species that provide immune support (e.g., Lactobacillus acidophilus and rhamnosus) along with child-relevant doses of immune-essential micronutrients vitamin C (45 mg), vitamin D3 (600 IU), and zinc bisglycinate (2.5 mg). I like that this Physician’s Choice formula is gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free and leverages natural flavors, plus beetroot juice and spirulina to achieve the purple hue of the tablet (read: no synthetic dyes). Although you will find it contains the sugar alcohols xylitol and stevia for sweetening.*
KidsProbiotic, Physician’s Choice ($17)
Best immune supplement for infants and toddlers
This naturally orange-flavored liquid syrup supplement from Zarbee’s Naturals is immune-focused and designed for babies starting at 2 to 11 months old and toddlers ages 1 to 3 years. The dosing instructions are different per age group. Immune-centric micronutrients featured include vitamins A, C, D3, and E, plus zinc. This supplement is designed for one serving per day but not intended for extended use. The vitamin C dosing is higher than the RDA, but well-within the safe upper limit for vitamin C in this age group (400 mg). This gluten-free syrup provides 10 to 15 calories per serving and 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrate from the organic agave syrup. It’s free of dyes and artificial flavors, and a syringe is included to help dispense the correct dosage. Note: this syrup can be stored at room temperature.*
Baby Immune Support & Vitamins, Zarbee’s Naturals ($9)
Other natural ways to support your immune system.
- Practice regular handwashing (sing a verse or two of your favorite song to make it count; hand sanitizing is helpful, too).
- Prioritize quality sleep (7 to 9 hours per night for adults).
- Move more (150 minutes of physical activity per week is the recommended minimum).
- Maintain a healthy weight (while emphasizing strength and lean muscle mass).
- Avoid toxins (e.g., smoking, excess alcohol).
- Reduce chronic stressors whenever possible (leverage social support from family and friends, do what brings you joy, etc.).
- Be cognizant of metabolic health because it’s directly tied to immunity.
- Prioritize hydration upon waking (9-12 cups a day).
- Focus on nutrient-dense immune nutrition: high-quality and adequate protein (grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic, etc. when possible), healthy fat and oil intake (especially omega-3s from marine sources and flaxseed, plus EVOO and avocado oils), an array of micronutrients (use a high-quality multivitamin to help), colorful plant-heavy approach (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, spices), and gut health-promoting prebiotic and probiotic foods.
- Incorporate targeted supplements to help address inevitable nutrients gaps and provide strategic support to immune function and strength.*
Considering your immune system on a daily basis might not be your current norm, but weaving this proactive mindset into the fabric of your other well-being lifestyle practices is essential for health. A key tool for bolstering your natural defenses each day is a high-quality immune supplement.* And now you have the best options right at your fingertips.p
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.