Antibiotics are medications prescribed by your physician to help fight off foreign bacteria that can make you ill. Not only do harmful bacteria make you sick, but they are also easily spreadable to others. Certain vitamins might help boost your immune system and aid in preventing illnesses or shortening their duration, if you are already sick. Before taking any vitamin supplements, talk with your physician to ensure they do not interact with any of your current medications 34.
Antibiotics entered streamline medicine in the 1940s as a safe and effective way to treat infectious diseases. While antibiotics are beneficial in treating infections and illnesses, over the years, strains of bacteria have become resistant to the drugs, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, making them less effective 1. Certain vitamins act like antibiotics by fighting off harmful invaders that make you ill.
Can Vitamins Prevent the Flu?
While vitamin C might not fight off foreign organisms in the direct way that antibiotics can, it helps reduce the duration of illness in some people, says the Office of Dietary Supplements 34. Not only does vitamin C help your immune system eliminate harmful bacteria, but it also acts like an antioxidant by stifling free-radicals. These devastating compounds feed on normally healthy cells and increase your risk for certain diseases. Keep your body healthy and your immune system working its best by getting your recommended daily amount of vitamin C; men need at least 90 milligrams and women require 75 milligrams daily.
- While vitamin C might not fight off foreign organisms in the direct way that antibiotics can, it helps reduce the duration of illness in some people, says the Office of Dietary Supplements 3.
- Keep your body healthy and your immune system working its best by getting your recommended daily amount of vitamin C; men need at least 90 milligrams and women require 75 milligrams daily.
Vitamin D is known for its role in helping your body absorb calcium, thus keeping your bones and teeth strong. This powerful vitamin also modulates your immune system, helping you stay illness- and infection-free. Adequate amounts of vitamin D in your system might inhibit the growth and spread of germs that make you ill. For optimal health, you need 600 international units, or 15 micrograms, of vitamin D each day, according to the Linus Pauling Institute 2.
Vitamin C & Amoxicillin
Just like vitamin C, vitamin E also has antioxidant properties in your system. Vitamin E acts like an antibiotic by getting rid of free-radicals, as well as supporting normal immune function. Having low levels of vitamin E in your blood results in a weak immune system that might leave you open to illness and infection, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements 34. Avoid your chances of having a wintertime bug by getting your recommended 22.4 international units, or 15 milligrams, of vitamin E each day.
- Just like vitamin C, vitamin E also has antioxidant properties in your system.
- Having low levels of vitamin E in your blood results in a weak immune system that might leave you open to illness and infection, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements 3.
Can Vitamins Prevent the Flu?
Vitamin C & Amoxicillin
How to Help Your Body Recover From Antibiotics
Vitamins That Help the Respiratory System
Vitamins for an Overactive Bladder
Vitamin C Dosage to Help Lower Cortisol
Foods and Vitamins to Help Heal Nerve Endings
Do Garlic & Onions Kill Flu & Cold Viruses?
Treatments for Fungus & Warts
How to Reduce WBC Count
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; "Antibiotic / Antimicrobial Resistance"; July 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute; "Vitamin D"; Jane Higdon; March 2004
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Holick MF, Gordon CM. Patient Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2011;96(7):1-2. doi:10.1210/jcem.96.7.zeg33a
- Sunyecz JA. The use of calcium and vitamin D in the management of osteoporosis. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(4):827-836. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s3552
- Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1174-1180. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.11.1174
- Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, et al. Optimal vitamin D status for colorectal cancer prevention: a quantitative meta analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2007;32(3):210-216. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2006.11.004
- Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85(6):1586-1591. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.6.1586
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- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1255-1260. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094
- Salehpour A, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, et al. A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D₃ supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women. Nutr J. 2012;11:78. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-78
- Carrillo AE, Flynn MG, Pinkston C, et al. Impact of vitamin D supplementation during a resistance training intervention on body composition, muscle function, and glucose tolerance in overweight and obese adults. Clin Nutr. 2013;32(3):375-381. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.014
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- Bouillon R, Van Schoor NM, Gielen E, et al. Optimal vitamin D status: a critical analysis on the basis of evidence-based medicine. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(8):E1283-E1304. doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1195
- American Academy of Dermatology. Position Statement of Vitamin D. 2010.
- Taksler GB, Cutler DM, Giovannucci E, Keating NL. Vitamin D deficiency in minority populations. Public Health Nutr. 2015;18(3):379-391. doi:10.1017/S1368980014000457
- Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(7):1911-1930. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-0385
- Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC, et al. Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006; 134:1129-40.
- Carrillo AE1, Flynn MG, Pinkston C, Markofski MM, Jiang Y, Donkin SS, Teegarden D. Impact of Vitamin D Supplementation During a Resistance Training Intervention on Body Composition, Muscle Function, and Glucose Tolerance in Overweight and Obese Adults. Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;32(3):375-81. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.014. Epub 2012 Aug 31.
- Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA, Jr. Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169:384-90.
- Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Men: a Prospective Study. Arch Intern Med. 2008; 168:1174-80.
- Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, Grant WB, Mohr SB, Lipkin M, Newmark HL, Giovannucci E, Wei M, Holick MF. Optimal Vitamin D Status for Colorectal Cancer Prevention: a Quantitative Meta-analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2007 Mar;32(3):210-6.
- Heaney, Robert P. “The Vitamin D Requirement in Health and Disease.” The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 97 (2005):13-9.
- Holick MF. Vitamin D. In: Shils M, Olson J, Shike M, Ross AC, ed. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1999.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center. Effectiveness and Safety of Vitamin D in Relation to Bone Health. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Aug 2007: 07-E013.
- Salehpour A1, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, Vafa M, Razaghi M, Dehghani S, Hoshiarrad A, Gohari M. A 12-week Double-blind Randomized Clinical Trial of Vitamin D₃ Supplementation on Body Fat Mass in Healthy Overweight and Obese Women. Nutr J. 2012 Sep 22;11:78. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-78.
- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent Seasonal Influenza A in Schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 91:1255-60. Epub 2010 Mar 10.
- Wilkins, Consuelo H. and Yvette I. Sheline, et al. “Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated with Low Mood and Worse Cognitive Performance in Older Adults.” American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 14 (2006): 1032-40.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.