What supplements help prevent colds and flu?

A recent study showed that Chinese herbs can fight colds better than conventional medications such as Tamiflu. I recommend Yin Chao Jin. Talk with a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Go to to find one near you.

Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH
Preventive Medicine Specialist

Flu season coincides with winter. That means shorter days, less sun exposure and declining levels of vitamin D for many of us. Vitamin D is of profound importance to many, perhaps all, body systems, including the immune system.

A low level of the vitamin will not cause the flu, of course, and an adequate level won’t prevent it on its own. But an adequate level will help make you less vulnerable to infection in the first place, and better able to fight it off if you and the flu do meet up.

It’s always best to talk to your doctor about supplements, but as a rule, I recommend boosting vitamin D intake to 2000 IU throughout flu season.

Another bit of new advice is to put Panax ginseng to work for you. This variety of ginseng, native to North America, has been shown to reduce the frequency of the common cold by roughly 30% when taken daily throughout the cold and flu season; the typical dose is 200 mg. While flu-fighting potency has not been proven, it stands to reason that the antiviral properties that help fight off colds should help with flu prevention as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.