What to Look for in an Elderberry Supplement
Not all supplements are created equal – and this is certainly true when it comes to taking an elderberry supplement.
Taking an elderberry supplement has numerous benefits for your immunity, digestion, and more. Choosing the right elderberry supplement for your body and your lifestyle is key to reaping the positive effects of this powerful natural remedy.
As you delve into the world of alternative medicine, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed. Thankfully, we’re here to show you what to look for as you shop for an elderberry supplement. Think of us as your tour guides on the path to wellness!
What Type of Elderberry Should I Take?
Like most supplements, elderberry is sold in multiple forms. Generally, you can choose the supplement that best suits your preferences and the condition you’re trying to treat.
Some people prefer to consume whole elderberries, as opposed to taking a supplement containing elderberry extract. Yes, you will still get the benefits of elderberry if you decide to whip up a tasty pie instead of sipping on some syrup! Just make sure to cook the berries before consuming, as raw elderberries contain large quantities of cyanide that can make you sick.
Others prefer to consume elderberry as a supplement to their diet. Elderberry syrup, made from black elderberry extract, is a popular choice, especially when it comes to preventing and treating the common cold. Elderberry lozenges may also have benefits on immune health, especially when the ingredients also contain zinc.
For another convenient liquid form, you can also try taking elderberry drops. These drops are administered via a syringe that allows you to squirt elderberry extract directly on the tongue. This type of supplement is an especially wise choice if you plan on administering elderberry to children – with your doctor’s okay, of course! – as it’s low-fuss and won’t make a huge mess.
Elderberry pills are less popular than other types of zinc, but are still available at most health food stores. Go with elderberry pills if you don’t like the taste of elderberry or prefer a more portable option to take with you on the go.
How Much Elderberry Should I Take?
Unlike vitamin and mineral supplements, elderberry is not naturally found in the body. Therefore, there is no Tolerable Upper Limit reported for elderberry, nor is there a minimum amount of elderberry you should be consuming daily – but that does not mean that taking elderberry is in vain!
So, how much elderberry should you take, and for how long? The recommended dosage of elderberry depends on your preferred method of delivery. Elderberry syrup may be administered one tablespoon at a time, three to five times daily, in both children and adults, while adults can take one elderberry lozenge twice per day. (Only adults should take elderberry lozenges, as they may pose a choking risk to children.)
Studies suggest that elderberry supplements may be taken safely for up to five days. That being said, scientists don’t know much about the long-term effects of using elderberry daily or for a prolonged period of time. As a result, elderberry supplements are best used over a short course of illness in order to boost immunity.
Using elderberry to treat a cold or bout of the flu? For the best results, begin taking elderberry supplements as soon as you feel sick. Elderberry reaches its maximum effects when taken within 24-48 hours of illness onset.
Should I Combine Elderberry and Zinc?
Many elderberry products, but especially lozenges, contain both elderberry and the trace mineral zinc.
Zinc, like elderberry, supports a healthy immune system. Unlike elderberry, however, zinc is found naturally in the body. The human body cannot make its own zinc, so it must be consumed as part of a balanced diet. When severe, zinc deficiency can lead to problematic symptoms like chronic diarrhea and loss of vision.
Elderberry and zinc are safe to take together. In fact, you may receive double the immune benefits from combining these two supplements into one! However, you should still exercise caution when choosing a combined elderberry and zinc supplement.
Zinc has a Tolerable Upper Limit, a.k.a. a maximum daily dosage, of 40 mg per day. Do not take a combined elderberry and zinc supplement that contains more than 40 mg of zinc unless your doctor directs you to do so. Taking too much zinc can lead to dangerous side effects like nausea, headache, diarrhea, and vomiting.
As always, consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplements. They know your health better than anyone and can advise you of any personalized risk factors that could affect your experience with elderberry and zinc.
When shopping for an elderberry supplement, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the options. We sincerely hope that this buying guide has helped you narrow down your search for the perfect elderberry supplement to meet your needs!
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016, September). European Elder. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/european-elder
WebMD Ltd. (2020). Elderberry (Herb/Suppl). Medscape. https://reference.medscape.com/drug/american-black-elder-elderberry-344473
Zakay-Rones, Z. et. al. (2004). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/147323000403200205