2 Supplements You Didn't Know To Use For Cold and Flu Season

Dr. Andrew Krause ND Headshot

by Dr. Andrew Krause ND

You have likely heard of zinc, echinacea, and vitamin C when it comes to their roles in cold and flu prevention/treatment. They are well-known for the cold-fighting actions, but they aren’t the only evidence-backed supplements that can help shorten the duration and reduce the severity of colds and flu!

Here are two other supplements to add to your cold and flu toolkit:

oats in a glass bowl with wooden spoon next to bowl and a large glass jug of milk

A food source for beta glucans is oats, and for colostrum is cow milk!

Beta Glucans

Beta glucans are highly branched polysaccharides that are non-caloric and impart an immune benefit. They are mainly found in fungi (mushrooms and yeast) and grains (oats).

From fungi (supplement) β 1,3/1,6 glucans can increase macrophage and lymphocyte function. One study showed that 900mg of beta glucans from brewer’s yeast taken for 16 weeks was able to reduce the number of cold infections by 25% and the symptom score of those who got infected by 15%. (1)

In another trial involving marathon runners, athletes that took 250mg of beta glucans for 28 days after completing a marathon experienced 37% less cold and flu episodes compared to placebo. (2)

How are beta glucans from fungi and oats different?

Fungal beta glucans are primarily β 1,3/1,6 glucans. These have a much stronger immune promoting effect.
Oat beta glucans are primarily β 1,3/1,4 glucans. These have a much stronger anti-lipidemic effect.

Search “Beta Glucan” on Fullscript and you’ll find different products from which you can choose.


Colostrum is the milk that comes from mammals during the first 72 hrs of their baby’s life that is particularly high in antibodies. Its natural purpose is to strengthen the immune system of recently born mammals. For humans, taking a colostrum supplement (from cow milk) can impart an immune benefit as well.

Adults taking 400mg of colostrum and the flu vaccine had 3x fewer days with the flu than adults who just took the flu vaccine on its own. (3) Active males taking 10g of colostrum twice a day experienced 44.5% fewer days with URI symptoms during the first 4 weeks of use, and 66% fewer days with URI symptoms during the 5ht-8th weeks of use. (4)

By providing immune cells directly to the body, colostrum is a way to stimulate the immune system. It’s particularly useful when individuals can’t take antibiotics (such as the elderly post-surgical participants in the study) and you still want to encourage their body’s resilience to external viruses.

Search “Colostrum” on Fullscript and you’ll find different products from which you can choose.

Both of these ingredients work in a similar way. Rather than targeting the cold/flu virus directly, they improve the body’s ability to defend against the virus while the virus is replicating in our body so the patient stays well.

Other health tips

Of course, we couldn’t write an article on how to get through cold and flu season without encouraging some of the foundations of health as well. Here are two studies demonstrating the benefits of sticking to the basics!


Acute sleep restriction can impair immune function, so make sure to prevent short sleep time during the winter to minimize your risk for colds and flu. (5)


Movement (whatever the form) can improve the innate immune system, but can also support the adaptive immune system and help patients with autoimmune conditions as well.

Did you know?
Patients experienced 47% fewer days with colds and flu in the exercise and meditation groups (45 minutes of the activity per day) compared to the control group in adult patients. (6)

Stay healthy so you can support your patient’s during this year’s flu season!