With winter approaching and this year’s flu season making headlines, you may be tempted to try immunity boosters to help you fend off a terrible disease at work.
Do these health supplements, however, genuinely work? And, maybe, more importantly, are they secure?
What exactly are Immunity Boosters?
Immunity boosters are products that claim to help your immune system, so you don’t get sick as often. Furthermore, they usually say that taking supplements will help you recover faster if you do get sick.
Airborne and Emergen-C are two well-known examples of immunity boosters, although many similar medications are on the market. The active ingredients might vary greatly, but the most popular ones include vitamin C, zinc, ginger, and echinacea.
Do These Products Work? Are they secure?
When assessing the safety of immune boosters, keep in mind that many of them (such as Zicam and Coldcalm) are labeled as homeopathic. As a result, most immunity boosters do not require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. On this subject, the FDA stated unequivocally: “Because FDA has not approved homeopathic medicinal products for any application, they may not satisfy modern criteria for safety, effectiveness, and quality.”
The organization does go into detail regarding some of the rules that apply to these products. Immunity boosters must meet the same standards as other prescription goods to avoid complications such as misbranding.
Unproven claims, for example, have produced problems for a few supplements on the market:
After the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused them of making unfounded claims, Airborne paid a $23.3 million settlement and modified their packaging in 2008. Initially, the product was touted as a “wonder cold buster.” However, it is currently referred to as anything that “aids in support of your immune system.” Following that is a notice stating Airborne is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness.
The FDA issued a warning notice concerning Zicam nasal sprays and gels in 2009. A claimed risk of anosmia (loss of smell) could appear to be permanent or long-term. Having voluntarily recalled the items, Zicam’s website was changed to say that no clinical relationship had been discovered.
Boiron, the company producing Coldcalm, paid $5 million in a complaint involving false advertising claims in 2012.
Coldvalm also contains potentially harmful substances such as Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), nux vomica (strychnine), and Pulsatilla. Even though the ingredients are substantially diluted in the product, heed warnings like this one from the NIH: “Belladonna is likely dangerous when taken orally.” It includes potentially hazardous substances.”
According to Healthline, one element of immune boosters makes the items unneeded for most people. Nutrients such as B12 and vitamin D continue to be crucial for maintaining a high level of energy and immunity. However, taking supplements like these will only benefit those already deficient.
It’s also important not to take too many supplements.
Large amounts of generally beneficial substances such as vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin B6 can affect negatively. These complications could include an upset stomach, a lack of copper, or even nerve damage.
How Can People Protect Themselves During the Cold and Flu Season?
A diversified diet (with enough protein, fruits, and vegetables), adequate sleep, low stress, and plenty of exercises are generally the true secrets to a strong immune system.
“Stick to what we know works—get enough sleep, exercise, and eat a balanced diet,” says Dr. Malcolm Thaler of One Medical. “And if you want to fight against colds, wash your hands with soap and water frequently during the cold season,” he added.
Vaccination is the most effective form of protection against influenza. Researchers predict that the vaccination avoided approximately 5 million cases of illness during the 2015-2016 flu season. The CDC and WHO recommend that everyone over six months get a flu vaccination.