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Immune Boosting: Is It a Bust?

Immune Boosting: Is It a Bust?

Update: 2021-03-0512


Internet influencers have been pushing “immune boosters” during the pandemic — claiming they’ve got just the pill, berry or brew to rev up our body’s defenses. But is there really a way to boost our immune system? We’re finding out whether these vitamins and supplements truly work as a shield against colds and viruses. We speak to public health Prof. Tim Caulfield, nutrition Prof. Carol Johnston, immunologist Shiv Pillai, and immune aging researcher Niharika Duggal. 

UPDATE 3/12/21: An earlier version of this episode overstated the evidence that starting to exercise leads to fewer colds and flus. While we do have lots of evidence that suggests exercise is good for our immune system, the research around starting an exercise program is more mixed. We've updated the episode.

Check out the transcript right here:

And find more rhymes from Shiv on TikTok: profpillaipoet


This episode was produced by Rose Rimler with help from Wendy Zukerman, as well as Taylor White, Nick DelRose, Meryl Horn, and Michelle Dang. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Fact checking by Diane Kelly. Mix and sound design by Bumi Hidaka. Music written by Peter Leonard, Marcus Bagala, Emma Munger, and Bobby Lord. A huge thanks to all the researchers we got in touch with for this episode, including Dr. Brian Crucian, Dr. Harri Hemila, Dr. Wendy Weber, Dr Shai Shen Orr, Dr. Ravindra PV, Prof. Philip Calder, Dr. Oveta Fuller, Dr. Kate Edwards, Dr. Hawley Kunz, Prof. Graham Rook, Prof. Emily Ho, Dr. Dayong Wu, Prof. David Nieman, Dr. Byron Quinn, Dr. Allison Kelliher, and Prof. Adrian Martineau. And special thanks to Willa Rubin, the Zukerman family and Joseph Lavelle Wilson.

Comments (4)

Kelsey H.

vitamin c can be dangerous in too large of doses in pregnant women

Mar 20th

Andi-Roo Libecap

Great episode - timely and informative!

Mar 9th

Megan Eberly

love the show, slight correction. the species of elder that is used in commercial supplements has the range specified in the show, but there are other species, for instance here in the eastern US. These species are also used in traditional medicine.

Mar 6th

Felipe Alvarez

I love Science VS. So punny.

Mar 6th








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Immune Boosting: Is It a Bust?

Immune Boosting: Is It a Bust?