Supplements to Stay Healthy During the Cold Season

Winter months can bring the most dreaded cold and flu season. They seem like inseparable partners, but does this mean you cannot dodge the cold season? Several factors such as poor dietary intake of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals as well as low availability of sunshine, influence your immune defense against a cold virus. While you cannot really avoid getting sick, there are many ways to prevent catching a cold in the first place.

An average adult suffers roughly about 2-3 colds per year. In general, it gets worst during the winter months when there is not enough sunshine, and people stay most of the time indoors. General precautions like washing hands thoroughly, avoid staying in close quarters with someone that is already sick are common recommendations. Additionally, you can take action to bolster your immune defense by including specific supplements.

Here is a quick overview of a few supplements you should consider taking during the cold season.


Superstar supplements to stay healthy

Vitamin D: Recent research shows that vitamin D is more than just for calcium absorption and keeping your bones healthy. Vitamin D is found to activate T-cells, a type of white blood cell that finds and kills invading organisms and pathogens. If you don't have enough sun exposure and your vitamin D levels are low, boosting vitamin D supplements may be effective in fighting a cold. Low vitamin D status translates to decreased immune defense against cold. Studies show that people with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to self-report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient levels[1].

Multivitamins: Multivitamins that give you a combination of nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and copper is a great way to perk up your vitamin status during winter.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is long used in the treatment of infections. It is a powerful antioxidant, and it also supports the epithelial barrier function (skin) against pathogens. Vitamin C helps both the innate and adaptive immune system[2]. Innate immune system is your body's first line of defense like skin, mucous membrane lining, etc. Adaptive immune system is the body's specific response immune system. They are the second line of defense. Their job is to identify the invader, fight, and recover from illness.

Zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient that helps fight infection and promote quicker wound healing. It’s evidence-based systematic review of studies provides convincing evidence on zinc's ability to reduce the duration of cold[3]. The review looked into 13 randomized placebo-controlled trials where zinc was taken soon after the onset of symptoms of the common cold and there was a significant reduction in both the duration and severity of symptoms.

Copper: Copper is a trace mineral like zinc. It participates in many biochemical reactions in the body as part of an enzyme and co-factor. Studies show that copper plays a role in the body's innate immune response against bacterial infections[4].  Copper is also known for its anti-allergic properties.

Bioflavonoids: Bioflavonoids are plant chemicals found abundant in certain fruits like berries and also in dark chocolate. The most common example is the citrus bioflavonoid is vitamin C. Bioflavonoids are powerful antioxidant compounds that scavenge free radicals that harm our body. Its protective role and ability to strengthen immune system is well documented. Another example of bioflavonoid is hesperidin that is present in the skin and juice of citrus fruits. Besides their antioxidant effects, they also exert anti-allergic[5] and anti-inflammatory properties, which play a role in influencing the body's immune response to pathogens including allergens[6].

Besides considering these nutrients, you can also amp up your immune system with select herbs that strengthen immunity.

Medicinal herbs

Elderberries: Elderberries are a type of medicinal plant used by Native Americans as a cold remedy. It is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, phenolic compounds, flavonols, and anthocyanins, which help strengthen immune system. Although there are no large scale studies on elderberry's effect on the immune system, there are a few studies that show its promising effects[7]. A 2004 study found that taking elderberries could offer a safe and effective treatment for influenza[8].

Echinacea purpurea: This herb is commonly used in the Europe and North America as part of cold and flu symptom remedy. A majority of the review studies on Echinacea reveal positive results. A review of 14 unique studies found that Echinacea herb was effective in reducing the odds of developing the common cold by 58%[9].

Pelargonium sidoides: It is a medicinal herb that is revered for its healing properties and its ability to be effective in managing acute respiratory infections such as bronchitis. The most significant effect of this herb is its ability to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of respiratory infections. One study found that a standard dose of Pelargonium sidoides was administered to individuals with cold  there was a 82% reduction in cold symptoms[10]

Lemon balm: Lemon balm is a herb that belongs to the mint family. Its main active ingredient is rosmarinic acid that helps improve symptoms of upper respiratory infections and sore throat. Rosmarinic acid has free radical scavenging effects and suppresses the activity of allergy-inducers and inflammatory responses of immune cells and useful in the management of allergic disorders[11]

Maitake mushroom: Maitake mushrooms are edible and are known for their immune-enhancing effects. They are rich in beta-glucans that have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and anti-bacterial effects. They are well researched for their immuno-modulating effects. Studies show that the beta-glucans in maitake mushrooms increase the production of cytokines. Cytokines are part of the immune system that regulate and mediate the activity of pathogen-fighting immune cells[12].

Eucalyptus globulus: The use of eucalyptus in treating cold and fever as a home remedy is known for many centuries. It is used for treating strep throat and sinusitis. The leaves are rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants and tannins that help reduce inflammation common in sinusitis.

Eupatorium perfoliatum: It is a perennial plant whose leaves  are used for the treatment of fever, malaria, and inflammation-associated diseases. The plant chemicals caffeic acid derivatives, flavonoids, sesquiterpene lactones, tannins, polysaccharides are responsible for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects[13]. A study found that there its anti-inflammatory effects correlate with the common cold, rheumatism, arthritis, etc. It is often used as an immune-booster because of its anti-inflammatory effects.

That's a lot of nutrients and therapeutic herbs to remember, does this mean you have to visit an apothecary? Luckily, Supplement First stocks a variety of formulations containing the aforementioned powerful ingredients to support your immune system. Whether you want to choose a homeopathic remedy or a combination of nutrients and herbal remedy, Supplement First™ offers you a variety.


Here's a top pick of immune support formulations this winter.

Nature's Way Sambucus Gummies: It is made with Black elderberry extract standardized to BioActives® (flavonoids), vitamin C, and zinc – and they taste great too! The formulation is gelatin-free and gluten-free, which makes this suitable for children four years and older. It is a chewable gummy with no artificial flavors and coloring.

Nature's Way Echinacea & Vitamin-C: If you are looking for a supplement with one herb and also a fan of Echinacea herb, this is for you. This supplement contains a powerful combination of echinacea and vitamin C for supporting the immune system.

Nature's Way Umcka® Cold+Flu Berry Flavor: If you are interested in a homeopathic route to managing your cold, take this multi-action cold and flu formula. It includes medicinal herbs like Eucalyptus globulus, Eupatorim perfoliatum along with other ingredients in a proprietary formulation. It is convenient to take, especially if you are not a fan of swallowing supplements. The chewable formulation dissolves in the mouth, and it is berry flavored. It is recommended to use the supplement at the first sign of symptoms and continue to use for an additional 48 hours after symptoms cease.

Douglas Laboratories Immunity: This supplement is a formula designed by Dr. Julie Chen recommended to be taken at the very first sign of wanting immune support.. It provides powerful immune-supportive ingredients such as the well-tolerated and absorbed Ester-C ®, vitamin D3, zinc, and a special proprietary blend of phytonutrients. The formulation includes black elderberry fruit extracts along with honeysuckle, astragalus, and andrographis, along with spirulina algae, to provide the best immune support. Two capsules a day is suggested for ongoing immune support.

Pure Encapsulations Daily Immune: This dietary supplement contains citrus bioflavonoids – vitamin C, hesperidin, nutrients like vitamin D, zinc, along with maitake mushrooms, lemon balm, and other natural herb extracts which make it the most powerful combination of herbs in one formulation. The product is hypoallergenic, and all the ingredients are chosen based on research and evidence.

At Supplement First, we only offer top quality supplements. Our team of nutritional experts take great effort in evaluating products. This ensures we only carry the best supplements that have been developed, produced, and rigorously tested in professional, scientific environments. 


 [1]                 Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA Jr.  Arch Intern Med. 2009 Feb 23; 169(4):384-90.

[2]                 Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211.

[3]                 Rao, G., & Rowland, K. (2011). PURLs: Zinc for the common cold--not if, but when. The Journal of family practice, 60(11), 669–671.

[4]                 Hodgkinson, V., & Petris, M. J. (2012). Copper homeostasis at the host-pathogen interface. The Journal of biological chemistry, 287(17), 13549–13555.

[5]                 Tanaka T, Takahashi R. Flavonoids and asthma. Nutrients 2013 Jun;5(6):2128-43.

[6]                 Tanaka T. Flavonoids as complementary medicine for allergic diseases: current evidence and future prospects. OA Alternative Medicine 2013 May 01;1(2)

[7]                 Porter, R. S., and Bode, R. F. ( 2017) A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products. Phytother. Res., 31: 533– 554. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5782.

[8]                 Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 132–140.

[9]                 Shah SA,Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis.Lancet Infect Dis. 2007 Jul;7(7):473-80.

[10]             Lizogub VG, Riley DS, Heger M. Efficacy of a pelargonium sidoides preparation in patients with the common cold: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

[11]             Stansbury, Jill. Rosamarinic acid as a novel agent in the treatment of allergies and asthma. Journal of Restorative Medicine, Volume 3, Number 1, 1 April 2014, pp. 121-126(6)


[12]             Vetvicka, V., & Vetvickova, J. (2014). Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Annals of translational medicine, 2(2), 14.

[13]             Hensel A1, Maas M, Sendker J, Lechtenberg M, Petereit F, Deters A, Schmidt T, Stark T.   Eupatorium perfoliatum L.: phytochemistry, traditional use and current applications. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Dec 8;138(3):641-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.10.002. Epub 2011 Oct 6.