Love it, Like it, Hate it: Immune-Boosting Supplements

The holiday season is revving up – and so is flu season.  And with the go-go-go of the holiday season, the odds of NOT getting sick aren’t in our favor. In today’s Love it, Like it, Hate it, we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on top immune-boosting supplements, and which ones aren’t worth the money.



Essential stay-well strategies:


REST | Immune system takes a hit when we skimp on sleep, leaving our bodies more susceptible to colds.

WASH | Wash hands 20+ seconds with soap and water; alcohol-based hand sanitizer is next best.

STRESS LESS | Chronic stress can wreak havoc on immune system, doubling our odds of catching a cold.

MOVE | Boosts disease-fighting white blood cells, plus effective stress-buster. Aim 30+ minutes daily.





Vitamin D | 500-1200+ IU daily

  • May boost immunity, reduce risk of flue + help prevent colds
  • Low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased risk of upper respiratory infections.


Elderberry syrup | 1 tablespoon, 4x daily

  • May reduce flu-like symptoms
  • Seems to reduce symptoms & duration of flu when given within 48 hours of initial symptoms; symptom relief typically within 2-4 days of treatment.


Thieves Essential Oil by Young Living | 1 drop, 1-2 x daily

  • 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil: Clove bud oil, Lemon peel oil, Cinnamon bark oil, Eucalyptus leaf oil, Rosemary leaf oil
  • Supports healthy immune & respiratory system
  • Add to tea, coffee, oatmeal, yogurt, etc.






Vitamin C | 1,000 mg - 8,000 mg daily

  • Vitamin C doesn’t appear to prevent us from getting sick but may shorten duration by 1-1.5 days
  • Tough to get that enough from food alone; supplementation generally needed for high doses.


Garlic | 180 mg allicin x 12 weeks

  • Antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties
  • Potential to reduce frequency of colds when taken prophylactically.






Large doses of Folate & Zinc

  • More than 400 mcg folate daily may impair natural killer cells.
  • More than 100 mg zinc daily may weaken the immune system.



  • Research is mixed: A few studies have shown that echinacea can reduce cold symptom severity and duration by about 10% to 30%, while others showed no benefit.
  • Studies evaluating echinacea’s cold prevention capabilities have not been well designed.



  • The company was sued by the Federal Trade Commission for making false claims
  • FTC stated that "There is no credible evidence that Airborne products, taken as directed, will reduce the severity or duration of colds, or provide any tangible benefit for people who are exposed to germs in crowded places.”




Want more from Molly?  Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in|The Times-Picayune!   And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram:  @MollyKimballRD