Skip to content

Proven Ways to Boost Your Immune System, Science Says

“Vitamin C, D and Zinc are important for appropriate immune response,” says Dr. Mareiniss.

Given our current situation, you might be interested in taking immune boosters, and need to first understand that overall immunity is based on a variety of factors, explains Dr. Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Emergency Medicine Physician at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. "There are things we do that can increase our vulnerability to infections," he says. A few examples include poor sleep and stress, which "increases cortisol secretion and may adversely impact immune defense" and smoking. In addition to getting your Zs, avoiding stress, eating a healthy diet, and exercising, taking immune boosters can also help build immunity. 

Immune boosters are supplements you can take to promote your overall health and ward off disease. Most of them include vitamins that have been scientifically proven to ward off disease —omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc—are a few of the key names to look for. Here's what taking immune boosters every day does to your body. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It. 


Immune Boosters Can Help Build Immunity

woman getting over a cold

Just like the name implies, immune boosters will help boost immunity so you can fight off infection. "Vitamin C, D and Zinc are important for appropriate immune response," Dr. Mareiniss explains. "If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert. "So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements."


Immune Boosters Can Help Decrease Inflammation

Senior woman suffering from pain in hand at home.

According to Dr. Mareiniss, immune boosters with zinc may be beneficial in decreasing inflammation. "There is some evidence that Zinc may help regulate appropriate inflammatory response," he says. "Zinc plays an intricate function during an immune response and its homeostasis is critical for sustaining proper immune function," says a study in Nutrients. "Additionally, zinc deficiency plays a role in inflammation, mainly elevating inflammatory response as well as damage to host tissue. Zinc is involved in the modulation of the proinflammatory."


Immune Boosters Can Help Boost Collagen

Mature Woman With Plastered Leg Talking On Mobile Phone At Home

Dr. Mareiniss reminds you that vitamin C, which is naturally present in many foods and not synthesized by the body, is crucial for the biosynthesis of collagen. "The healing of musculoskeletal tissues, such as bone, tendons, and ligaments, is dependent on the capacity of collagen synthesis and cross-linking," says one study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. "Basic science investigations on the biochemical pathways after a musculoskeletal injury have suggested that vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, may enhance collagen synthesis and soft tissue healing."

RELATED: Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Painful" Cancers


Yes, Immune Boosters Can Help Heal Wounds

A plaster cast with plaster.

Additionally, vitamin C "is an essential component of connective tissue and plays a role in wound healing," he explains. "Preclinical studies demonstrated that vitamin C has the potential to accelerate bone healing after a fracture, increase type I collagen synthesis, and reduce oxidative stress parameters," says the study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.


Immune Boosters Can Help Keep Cancer at Bay

Female doctor analyzing mammography results on x-ray.

Immune boosters with vitamin C, an antioxidant, may also keep certain cancers at bay, says Dr. Mareiniss. "Most case-control studies have found an inverse association between dietary vitamin C intake and cancers of the lung, breast, colon or rectum, stomach, oral cavity, larynx or pharynx, and esophagus," explains the National Institutes of Health.

RELATED: The Easiest Way to Look Younger, Says Science


Immune Boosters Can Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease


If oxidative stress plays a role, immune boosters with vitamin C may aid in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, he adds. 


Immune Boosters Can Upset Your Stomach

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home

Don't overdo your immune boosters. "Very, very large doses of Vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, headache and insomnia," points out Dr. Mareiniss. Ask your doctor about which dosage is right for you. 

RELATED: 5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta


Remember, Food Over Supplements!

fruits vegetables

Pretty much every health expert agrees that the best source of vitamins and minerals is from immune-boosting foods. "Typically, you can get adequate vitamin C from foods like citrus fruits, peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cantaloupe, potatoes, strawberries, spinach etc," reveals Dr. Mareiniss. And, "Vitamin D can be ingested but is naturally produced in the body. UV light (ie, sunlight) exposure aids its production." Discuss these thoughts with your medical professionals, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah