Supplements Don’t “Boost” Your Immune System

Should you take a supplement for COVID-19?

Gideon M-K; Health Nerd


Pictured: Mostly a waste of time. Source: Pexels

Note: because not everyone reads to the end, I’d like to say right up here that the best advice I can give you is to go and talk to your doctor. Taking a supplement or not is a medical decision, and those are best made in consultation with experts who know more about your health than articles you find on the internet.

There’s something quite magical about the supplement aisle. You walk down a row of brightly-coloured bottles, each one trying to outdo the others on its wonderful benefit to your body. They can, apparently, boost your brain, make you stronger, and even make improve your immune system to levels heretofore unseen in the biological world.

Pictured: The results of just ONE fish oil tablet, presumably. Source: Pexels

And in a year of uncertainty and viral infection, the idea that we can boost or support our immune system with supplements is stronger than ever. Supplement sales have gone through the roof throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, because if there’s one thing that’s universally true it’s that fear sells and we have all spent much of this year being really quite scared.

Unfortunately for all of us out there popping pills, the reality is that supplements aren’t quite as magical as they pretend to be on the bottle, and in reality it’s unlikely that any of them can improve your immune system at all. Yes, people who are deficient in some vitamins might benefit from taking a supplement to bring them up to normal levels, but aside from that there’s often little evidence that these pills do much for our health.

Supplements probably don’t help for COVID-19 after all.

Supplemental Science

At the outset, I should be very clear — it is impossible to be certain that no supplement will benefit your immune system. The problem with supplements is that they are a poorly-regulated, often extremely diverse field, which means there are thousands of different products on the market that all claim to do similar things but can be quite different if you look closely at them.