Understandably, people want to do everything they can to support their immune system and stay healthy — especially in the face of a global pandemic. With that in mind, you may have found yourself Googling the words, "immune boosters," in an effort to find something to ward off illnesses of any kind at all costs. With vitamins and supplements being touted as a gold standard of wellness, it can be easy to think that popping a gummy is all it takes to bolster your body's immunity. Well, it's not quite that simple — but, that doesn't mean there aren't some combination of steps you can take to stay healthy.
"Immunity is not just one 'thing,'" Dr. Erin Michos, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine tells Refinery29. "There is no magic pill to reduce the risk of infections — it's about overall wellbeing." And she's right: Eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are among the best things anyone can do to support a healthy immune system. (And remember, sleep and YouTube workouts don't cost a thing!) "These are all things that have been shown to lessen risk in infections," she explains.
That said, if you are deficient in a certain vitamin (or are looking to supplement, not substitute your diet), there are ways to navigate the vitamin industry with intelligence and intention. First and foremost, any vitamin regimen should be always discussed with your medical provider to avoid potential drug interactions. Also, be mindful of dosages — according to Michos, there's no need to exceed the recommended daily value of anything. "[Ask yourself] why are you taking this? What is the purpose? What are you trying to treat or correct?" she says. "It’s important to note that high doses — too much of a good thing — can have side effects, so more is not necessarily better."
If you've cleared things with your doctor, then (and only then!) should you hit "add to cart." And when it comes to navigating the virtual vitamin aisles, always look for transparency when it comes to ingredients and formulation: "Look for brands that show their work," says Nina Mullen, Hilma Co-Founder & Co-CEO. "See if there is information readily available on the research, testing, and experts behind the product you’re considering." For those who are immunity-boosting-curious, we've gone ahead and started the work for you by highlighting a few products with high marks.
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