How to Boost Your Immune System

Get Healthy Stay Healthy.

By Dr. Robin Rose

We take a muti-disciplinary approach to health and wellness. The goal of our functional medicine practice is to optimize nutrition, sleep, exercise, and mindfulness to help people live longer, more fulfilling lives. I cofounded Terrain Health because I worry that many people in our community need to rethink how they care for themselves as they age. I see it every day in my GI practice. People are suffering. Aside from the fact that chronic disease is rampant, a lot of my patient’s just “don’t feel well,” and by simply changing their diet and lifestyle can have profound effects in healing them. Our work together begins with nutrition and a deep understanding of how important it is to take care of your body as a whole, and your gut specifically. Eating well is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. But it’s hard.

At Terrain Health, we encourage our community to consider nutritional supplements to support your immune system and general well-being. We take them because it’s challenging to get the vital nutrients our bodies require through the normal American diet. Even if you eat, really clean, healthy organic food, America’s soil has been depleted through years of industrial farming. Supplements mitigate the risk that your diet may not be enough to keep you healthy. That matters even more this April, May, and the months ahead. Can you get some Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D etc from your diet? Of course. But, the real question is, are we getting enough from our food?

That’s why we encourage you to boost your immune system today.

I have written a detailed, scientific primer about nutritional supplements. We’ve been working on it for weeks. This will be a living, iterative document because science is constantly evolving. Consider this our gift to you, especially to those dear friends and family who have asked us to share the peer reviewed articles that support the use of these supplements for not only immune support, but specifically for the cold and flu season, and now amid the current pandemic. So be our guests and have at it! Enjoy! We are so excited to hear your feedback.

For those that do not have the attention span to read our primer in its entirety, we understand. Below we have created an abridged version of the key supplements we believe are essential to be taking right now, given years of published papers on their properties, and the real-time literature that continues to be published about them. If you are interested in taking these supplements, we can get you access to our company discounts. Write to us at and we can enroll you with our partners.

Terrain Health’s Top Picks for Immune Support and General Wellness:

Probiotics: These are critical for optimal gut and immune support. The human microbiome influences almost every organ in our body. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us live in a state of dysbiosis (meaning we have more unfriendly than friendly bacteria) which can have several health implications stemming from “leaky gut.” It is important to use a multi-strained, pharmaceutical-grade probiotic that is shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration. And remember to eat a diet high in phytonutrients and phytochemicals incorporating all the colors of the rainbow in fruits and vegetables into your diet to support the gut microbiota and ensure that the probiotics you are giving yourself will thrive.

Terrain Health recommends Perque’s Digesta Guard Forte: Recommended dose: Adults: 2-4 caps daily; Children: 1-2 caps daily.

Vitamin D: Having adequate vitamin D levels is crucial for optimal immune function and this CANNOT be achieved without supplementation during the winter months. Studies show that people with vitamin D deficiency are 11 times more likely to contract a cold or the flu. Many adults need 5,000 IU (international units) or more of Vitamin D3 (Vitamin D form that is best absorbed) daily during the winter months. Without prior blood testing, we recommend starting with 2,000 IU for adults, 1,000 IU for children. In order for this intervention to be effective, it is important that you have been taking this supplement continually before the respiratory tract infection ensues.

Terrain Health recommends Vitamin D3 2,000 IU daily from Vital Nutrients for adults.

Terrain Health recommends Vitamin D3 1,000 IU from Orthomolecular for children.

*You may want to test your levels every 3-6 months to ensure you are getting adequate amounts.

Terrain Health recommends Vitamin D3 5,000 IU daily from Designs for Health for adults if you have recently had blood work done showing that your Vitamin D level is lower than 30ng/ml.

Also, it is important to note that certain people with pre-existing medical conditions including sarcoidosis, kidney disease, liver disease, and hyperparathyroidism, need to use caution when using high doses of Vitamin D as they may be at risk for developing kidney stones or worsening renal function.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): This vital vitamin helps support the immune system by promoting normal antibody responses, white blood cell function and activity, as well as maintaining normal levels of interferons. Ascorbic acid is one of the most potent antioxidants and provides nutritional support to all functions of the body, including iron absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. When we are fighting off an infection, our body utilizes Vitamin C at a much higher rate and we are therefore able to tolerate higher doses without side effects. Studies show that high doses of oral and IV Vitamin C are well tolerated and effective at fighting off the common cold and Influenza. Vitamin C has gotten a lot of press in treating COVI0-19 patients across the globe. China is in phase 2 clinical trials using high dose Vitamin C 24 gm IV daily for patients with SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Injury) associated with the novel coronavirus. The rationale stems from the notion that Vitamin C is an antioxidant that may prevent cytokine-induced damage to the lungs.

Terrain Health recommends Vital nutrients 1,000 mg (ascorbic acid) daily for adults.

Terrain Health recommends now Vitamin C 500 mg chewable tablets daily for children.

It is important to note that some people (particularly those with a history of kidney stones) taking high doses of Vitamin C (2,000 mg or more daily) can be at increased risk for forming calcium oxalate stones. Also, use caution with high doses in patients with hemochromatosis and other conditions leading to iron overload.

Quercetin: It has been called “king of the flavonoids” because of its powerful antioxidant properties and its ability to support a healthy inflammatory response in the body. It is found in many foods that are recognized for their health benefits, such as red onions, apples, olive oil, dark berries and grapes, capers, salad greens, and culinary herbs such as dill, cilantro, watercress, and radicchio. Several published studies about Quercetin’s anti-viral properties have created a groundswell of interest in the medical community among researchers exploring treatments for COVID-19. Clinical trials to test Quercetin’s effectiveness are scheduled to start in China within the next few weeks.

Terrain Health recommends Vital Nutrients Quercetin 250 mg 1-2 caps two- three times/day for adults (or it can be taken in combination with stinging nettle as below).

Stinging nettle (AKA Urtica dioica): The nettle plant has been used throughout the ages and throughout the world for a wide variety of medicinal purposes. Use of this herb dates back to ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and among native peoples in North America and has been consumed directly, or made into soup, tea, and even brewed into beer. Stinging nettle’s immune-supporting effects are owed to its high content of Vitamin C and Iron. It appears to play a critical role in the anti-inflammatory response supporting its use over the years in promoting respiratory health. Like Quercetin, nettle is also a natural antihistamine. However, unlike many over-the-counter treatments that regulate histamine, nettle does not cross the blood-brain-barrier, which means it is unlikely to cause the drowsiness that has been associated with common OTC products that promote upper respiratory health.

Terrain Health recommends Designs for Health Quercetin and Nettles 1 cap three times/day for adults.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a versatile molecule, synthesized not only by the pineal gland but also in small amounts by many other organs like the retina, gastrointestinal tract, thymus, bone marrow, lymphocytes, etc. It plays an important role in various functions of the body such as sleep and circadian rhythm regulation, immunoregulatory mechanism, free radical scavenger, antioxidant functions, control of reproductive functions, regulation of mood, etc. Melatonin has also been found to be effective in combating various bacterial and viral infections. Studies suggest a possible therapeutic potential for melatonin in human virus-induced disorders. Melatonin may be the reason why children under the age of 9 seldom exhibit severe symptoms when infected with COVID-19. Exogenous intake during COVID-19 is being recommended only because normal endogenous production for adults may not be adequate for protection against COVID-19. Children under nine years of age are protected from COVID-19 because they have up to ten times the ‘normal’ amount of adults. Therefore, a physiologic dose of melatonin is being recommended for adults.

Terrain Health Recommends Pure encapsulations Melatonin 0.5 mg one hour prior to bedtime for adults.

Zinc: It is an essential mineral needed for many aspects of cellular metabolism. Zinc plays an important role in supporting immune function, testosterone metabolism, and numerous other functions in the body. Zinc is involved in more than 200 enzymatic reactions and plays a critical role in genetic expression, cell division, and growth. Zinc has been shown to promote healthy neurological and reproductive function as well as eye health. Research suggests zinc supplements may reduce oxidative stress and support a healthy immune response during seasonal challenges. As we age, Zinc deficiency can negatively impact our immune system and the chronic inflammatory response.

Terrain Health recommends Thorne Zinc Picolinate 30 mg daily for adults.

Terrain Health recommends Thorne Zinc Picolinate 15 mg daily for children 9-12 y/o.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): NAC is a cellular antioxidant and amino acid that is the precursor to glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant. NAC specifically promotes healthy lung tissue, but also helps support liver function and detoxification, and muscle recovery. By supporting healthy mucus viscosity, NAC helps maintain normal breathing patterns and promotes healthy lung function. NAC assists the body in maintaining proper levels of glutathione in order to aid in the natural detoxification process.

Terrain health recommends Vital Nutrients NAC 600 mg twice daily for adults.

Omega 3s: To maintain optimal health, our bodies require a variety of different fats including essential fatty acids. Two of these—omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids—are essential. Unfortunately, the American diet is very high in omega-6, but low in omega-3 due to industrialized farming practices and modern food processing technology. Few nutrients have been studied as thoroughly as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are crucial for anything from supporting brain health to preventing cardiovascular disease to fighting autoimmune disease to helping prevent cancer and dampening the inflammatory response. The best sources of omega-3 fats are cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, but many people don’t eat these foods.

Terrain Health recommends OmegaAvail TG1000 by Designs for Health 2 caps daily for adults.

This week we will launch a Personalized Immune Support Program for our clients. But if you are ready to buy some supplements to help boost your immune system email us at We have established some partnerships that get you discounts on the products we use ourselves.