These Are the Immune-Supporting Ingredients a Naturopathic Doctor Always Keeps on Hand

If it seems like everyone you know starts calling out of work as soon as the temperature drops, you're not imagining it. Turns out, it's not a coincidence that it can feel like your immune system needs additional support to keep it running in tip-top shape this time of year.

According to Erin Stokes, ND, registered naturopathic doctor and MegaFood® medical director, your immune system undergoes additional stress during the winter months. But since you can’t control the seasons (if only), there are several things you can do to help maintain a healthy immune response.*

"There are times when we all need extra immune support, and we experience added stressors during the cold winter months," Stokes says. "When the temperature starts to drop it’s important to make sure your immune system doesn't."

To help you feel your best, Stokes recommends stocking up on immune-supporting ingredients—whether they're real-food ingredients in your fridge or found in supplements like MegaFood, which uses real food grown by trusted, IRL farmers plus added nutrients to create premium supplements.

Scroll down to learn more about the four immune-supporting ingredients to keep on deck.

immunity-boosting supplements

Vitamin C

The king of immune-supporting ingredients is everyone's go-to, but according to data from the CDC, 15 million people still have low levels of vitamin C in their blood.

Increasing these levels is important because vitamin C supports healthy immune function by accumulating in certain immune cells that help make up our body's 'defensive team,'" Stokes says.

To give yourself a vitamin C bump, load up on foods like broccoli, cantaloupe, and tomatoes, or pop two MegaFood Immune Defense* tablets, which contain 250 milligrams of vitamin C together with organic oranges. Or, if you'd prefer to actually taste your oranges, try a gummy vitamin that's made without any artificial or added colors and flavors and includes only two grams of sugar per serving (60 percent less sugar than a leading natural channel gummy supplement brand at two grams of sugar per serving versus five grams).

Black elderberry

Fun fact: Hippocrates (you know, the father of modern medicine) referred to elderberry as a "medicine chest," so you know its benefits must be legit. The plum-hued berries have been used for hundreds of years to support optimal immune health, Stokes says, and their coloring is part of what makes them such a powerhouse.*

"The dark purple berries contain anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that is also found in other deeply pigmented fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and bilberries," says Stokes.


Vitamin C might get all the glory, but zinc is the nutrient Stokes calls our "powerhouse immune mineral" because of the way it helps support healthy immune function.*

You can mostly find zinc in animal products like meat, shellfish, milk, and eggs, but if you're a plant-based eater, you can also get it from legumes, nuts, and dark chocolate (yes please)—or grab five milligrams (45 percent of the suggested daily value) from Immune Defense.* As if you needed an excuse to eat dark chocolate after every meal.


The ultimate lesson in not judging a book by its cover: Echinacea—also known as the purple coneflower—might look like just a pretty flower, but it's actually a bitter, phytonutrient-rich herb that's known for powering the immune system.* Talk about an undercover superpower.

Native Americans used the plant in a variety of situations, Stokes says, and usually brewed the petals into a tea. But you can skip the steeping and still score the benefits from MegaFood Immune Defense,* which has 500 milligrams of echinacea extract. The best part: You don't even need to learn how to pronounce it.

Tapping all these immune-supporting ingredients together is a win for helping you feel your best—and for saving space in your medicine cabinet. “When you combine botanicals and nutrients into one formula, you’re able to draw on the positive benefits of each ingredient in one convenient formula,” Stokes says. So when you feel the need this winter and beyond, take two MegaFood Immune Defense* tablets for five days—and make sure to rest up.

Sponsored by MegaFood®

Top photo: Getty Images/vivanity

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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