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I read that elderberry is helpful for the immune system.

Q. Dear Terry, “I read that elderberry is helpful for the immune system. I’m wondering if I can give elderberry to my 10-year-old son? He seems to keep catching everything that goes around at school and I can’t afford to stay home with him all the time.” – Jessica C., Houston, TX

A. Dear Jessica, One of my favorite ingredients for supporting the immune system in children and adults is elderberry (Sambucus nigra). It is one of the best, most clinically studied botanicals for fighting colds and the flu. Elderberry can disrupt viruses and restore the body’s ability to fight them off without the side effects or drug resistance that you see from antibiotics or other prescription medications. Elderberry has been found to be effective against numerous pathogens, including Streptococcus pyogenes and Escherichia coli. Elderberry extract has been shown to be especially effective when combined with other nutrients, like vitamins and minerals. 

In addition to elderberry, vitamins A, C, D, and E are key for good immune function. Vitamin A (as retinyl acetate) is antiviral and can help stop colds or flu. Vitamin C is probably one of the best-known ingredients for immune support. Taken as a preventative nutrient, it may reduce the incidence of colds by as much as 50 percent! Increased vitamin D levels may correspond with a reduced risk of infection. Vitamin E, as d-alpha and mixed tocopherols, provides the whole family of vitamin E as you would find in food.

Minerals are also central players in immune health and are often in short supply in our diets. One study demonstrated that zinc reduced cold symptom duration by 42 percent when taken on the first day of symptoms. Selenium is another mineral our immune system needs when in distress and is an excellent partner to zinc.

I would try 1,000 IU (300 mcg) of vitamin A (as retinyl acetate), 100 mg of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), 1,000 IU (25 mcg) of vitamin D3, 15 IU (10 mg) of vitamin E (as d-alpha and mixed tocopherols), 3 mg of zinc (as zinc citrate), 25 mcg of selenium (from selenium glycinate), and 50 mg of elderberry standardized to ≥ 12% anthocyanins. For children 8-14 years old, the above ingredients could be taken three times per day. Because children may have difficulty swallowing capsules or softgels, these ingredients can be found in a chewable form as well.

Healthy Regards!

Terry . . . Naturally

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
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