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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 11/24/2010

Half of Americans fighting flu with supplements

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

Nearly half of Americans plan to use dietary supplements or homeopathic treatments to help ward off influenza this season. But only about a third of that group plans to also get a flu shot.

That's the news from a survey of 1,500 adults conducted in September by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

The survey also found that those using supplements for flu prevention planned to take an average of four different kinds, with Vitamin C, multivitamins, zinc and "combination herbs" leading the way.

Consumer Reports noted, though, that two substances that are among the most likely to help fight flu, elderberry and, were being used by far fewer people. Each of those substances is supported by a bit of science showing they can shorten the duration of a bout of flu or lessen its symptoms. Still, the two only merit rankings of "possibly effective" in CR's ratings, which are based on the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.

Nearly half of Americans plan to use dietary supplements or homeopathic treatments to help ward off influenza this season. (Craig Herndon - The Washington Post)

While 35 percent of the supplement-inclined said they planned to get vaccinated against influenza, 62 percent said they'd turn to prescription and over-the-counter medications to battle the flu. And 13 percent said they'd be relying on supplements alone, thank you very much.

Call me cautious, but I got a flu shot (and nasal vaccine for my kids) as soon as I could this season, and I'll continue to do so until someone can prove that a supplement can be relied on to keep me healthy.

How about you? Do you use dietary supplements or homeopathic medicine to get you through flu season? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and please vote in today's poll.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | November 24, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Dietary supplements, General Health, Infectious Disease, Influenza  
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Vit D has been proven in double blind placebo controlled studies to be the safest, most effective and least expensive form of cold and flu prevention and treatment. Of course you probably haven't gotten that information from your pharmaceutical owned doctors and ad supported media. Ask a real interrogative doctor or do the research yourself.

Posted by: ANH-USA | November 24, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about scientific proof, but I take supplements as well as eat healthy nutritious meals and get my exercise, even keep stress levels to a minimum. I have yet to get a bad case of the flu! To take the other side of your argument, I would like some concrete proof that the long-term effect of the flu shot has no negative consequences or lasting unhealthy effects.

Posted by: honeybnutrition | November 24, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"Call me cautious, but I got a flu shot (and nasal vaccine for my kids) as soon as I could this season, and I'll continue to do so until someone can prove that a supplement can be relied on to keep me healthy"

There are several issues I have with this Washington post article-

1. The author is claiming that she is cautious-(ah yes the fear factor) but obviously did little research.
2. She is waiting passively for someone to tell her that she can take supplements to prevent getting the influenza virus.
3. The author in all likelihood didn't do any research to find out what ingredients/substances are in the vaccines.

I wouldn't characterize the author as being cautious, I would characterize the author of this article as being uninformed.

There is no clinical evidence that flu shots work.Given the amount of information out there about the neurotoxins found in flu shots,it's beyond my comprehension why anyone would get a flu shot. Many of the nasal vaccines last year contained the live H1N1 virus so again I do not understand why a mother would subject her children to live strains of influenza-(multiple this year) and neurotoxins. There have been many reports about the ingredients in vaccines which can cause sterility. I guess the author doesn't mind taking a gamble with her children’s reproductive systems.

I can surmise the following
1. This person isn't qualified to give recommendations regarding the flu shot because she has not reflected the science in her statements..... or
2. She has been paid by a pharmaceutical company to promote their drugs.

Posted by: Allnews | November 24, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I wish people would stop confusing herbal medecine and homeopathy.. Apples and oranges..
There are substances in plants that do the same or better jobs than the OTC meds, plus they're more readily absorbed and (usually) WITHOUT the side effects..

Where do you think Big Pharma gets their magic potions from..?? They find the substances in plants that work, find a way to make them synthetically (usually petrol-based, therefore not as readily absorbable and WITH side effects), then put their TM on it and sell it as the latest thing..

Posted by: Kiera6 | November 24, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse



From the abstract of the study done in Japan and published in the peer-reviewed medical literature.

"Influenza A occurred in 18 of 167 (10.8%) children in the vitamin D3 group compared with 31 of 167 (18.6%) children in the placebo group [relative risk (RR), 0.58; 95% CI: 0.34, 0.99; P = 0.04]."

Posted by: LincolnsWisdom | November 25, 2010 7:07 AM | Report abuse

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