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Are Airborne Immune Support Supplements Bad For You?



Short answer

Airborne contains vitamins, minerals, and herbs that may support immune health, especially in those with deficiencies. However, there's mixed evidence on their benefits in preventing sickness. Excessive intake can cause adverse effects. The product is not a guaranteed safeguard against illness and should not replace a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and stress management. Interactions with medication could pose risks. Moreover, some Airborne products have added sugars, impacting overall health. Supplements can fill dietary gaps but cannot 'boost' the immune system as often claimed.



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Long answer

Efficacy of Ingredients in Airborne for Immune Support

The product in question, Airborne, boasts a blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbs formulated to bolster the immune system. To determine the efficacy of these ingredients for immune support, we must delve into the scientific evidence underpinning each one's purported benefits. Our goal here is to sift fact from fiction, shedding light on whether these components truly deliver on their promises.

First, let's itemize the primary active ingredients found in Airborne:

Now, we’ll analyze the research concerning these key players:

Vitamin C: Known for its role in immune function, Vitamin C is often hailed as an immune booster. The truth, supported by evidence from studies such as a 2013 review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, suggest that while vitamin C is crucial for immune health, it may not prevent the common cold. Regular intake might reduce the duration and severity of colds for some individuals, especially those under physical stress.

Vitamin E: This antioxidant is essential for maintaining the integrity of cell membranes against oxidative damage. According to a study in the 'Journal of Molecular Medicine,' Vitamin E can enhance T-cell-mediated immune function. However, its supplementation is not conclusively proven to prevent infections and should be consumed within the recommended limits to avoid potential adverse effects associated with high doses.

Vitamin A: It plays a key role in the development and regulation of the immune system. The 'Journal of Clinical Medicine' notes its importance for maintaining mucosal barriers and supporting the function of immune cells. However, excess Vitamin A can lead to toxicity, emphasizing the need for balance.

Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that our bodies need for proper immune cell function and signaling. A meta-analysis in the 'Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews' indicates that zinc lozenges may lessen the duration of cold symptoms when taken within 24 hours of onset. Still, there's insufficient evidence to justify its use as a general immune enhancer for the broader population.

Selenium: Selenium is critical to immune response, and deficiency can harm immune cell function. Supplementation in those who are deficient can be beneficial, as indicated by research in 'Advances in Nutrition'. However, the benefits for those already consuming sufficient selenium are less clear.

Echinacea: Often included in immune support supplements, Echinacea is thought to combat colds and respiratory tract infections. But studies, like one from the 'Lancet Infectious Diseases', provide mixed results with some suggesting modest benefits, while others show no significant effect. Long-term use is still to be approached with caution due to a lack of extensive research on its long-term safety profile.

Ginger: Ginger possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which could support immune health. Its benefits, supported by research published in the 'International Journal of Preventive Medicine', could aid in the management of inflammatory conditions and may enhance immunity. But there's a paucity of clinical trials specifically outlining its impact on common cold prevention or treatment.

In summation, while certain ingredients in Airborne have been scientifically proven to be essential to immune system functioning, their effectiveness in the context of an immune support supplement is mixed. The bottom line is that these ingredients may provide some benefits, particularly for individuals with a deficiency, but they are not a panacea for immune health.

It's essential to consume these vitamins and minerals in their recommended dietary allowances—and not fall into the overconsumption trap, thinking more is better. The law of diminishing returns applies neatly here: beyond a certain point, additional intake does not equal additional benefit and could lead to adverse effects.

Moreover, the reliance on dietary supplements should never overshadow the cornerstone of good health—a balanced diet with adequate sleep, regular physical activity, and stress management. These lifestyle factors play a substantial role in maintaining a robust immune system and have been proven by extensive research to be effective in promoting overall health and well-being.

Potential Side Effects of Overconsumption of Vitamins and Minerals

The quest for bolstered immunity often leads individuals to reach for supplements like Airborne, widely marketed as an immune support aid. However, excessive consumption of certain vitamins and minerals — common ingredients in such supplements — can precipitate a host of adverse effects. Being well-informed about the potential side effects is crucial for maintaining optimal health.

Vitamin C: Long celebrated for its immune-boosting properties, Vitamin C is water-soluble, with excess amounts typically excreted by the body. Nevertheless, in doses exceeding 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day, it may lead to gastrointestinal distress, including symptoms like diarrhea and nausea. There's also a potential for increased oxalate and uric acid in the urine, which could contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals.

Vitamin A: Unlike Vitamin C, Vitamin A is fat-soluble, meaning it can accumulate in the body's tissues. High intake of this vitamin, particularly in the form of retinol (preformed Vitamin A), can lead to hypervitaminosis A. Symptoms can include blurred vision, bone pain or swelling, and liver damage. Moreover, pregnant women need to be particularly cautious, as excessive Vitamin A may cause birth defects.

Zinc: As an essential trace element, Zinc is crucial for numerous bodily functions, including immune response. However, surpassing the recommended upper intake level of 40 mg per day for adults can suppress copper absorption, causing neurologic disease and anemia. Excessive Zinc may also trigger nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches.

Selenium: Trace amounts of Selenium are vital for antioxidant enzymes, yet its narrow margin between dietary requirement and toxicity levels demands attention. Selenium toxicity, or selenosis, can occur with daily doses above 400 micrograms (mcg). Hallmarks of overconsumption include gastrointestinal upsets, hair loss, fatigue, and in severe cases, nerve damage.

Echinacea: Often featured in immune supplements, Echinacea is an herbal component associated with immune function. Despite its widespread use, excessive consumption can result in side effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, and gastrointestinal issues. People with autoimmune diseases or those on immunosuppressive medication should be especially wary of Echinacea.

It's apparent that while micronutrients and herbals are integral to health, indiscriminate or high-volume consumption can backfire. It is thus advisable to adhere to the recommended daily allowances and to consult healthcare professionals before embarking on high-dose supplementation regimens.

References for the information provided about these potential side effects can be gleaned from scientific literature and respected health organizations, which underscore the importance of a balanced intake:

  • National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact sheets providing details on the recommended dietary allowances and tolerable upper intake levels of various vitamins and minerals.
  • The Linus Pauling Institute's Micronutrient Information Center, which offers peer-reviewed articles on the role and requirements of micronutrients, including potential risks associated with overconsumption.
  • Journal articles and studies that have investigated the adverse effects of high-dose vitamin and mineral supplements, available in databases such as PubMed.

Interactions with Prescription Medications and Airborne

Understanding the potential interactions between dietary supplements like Airborne and prescription medications is critical for safety and efficacy. The thoughtful combination of vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts in Airborne is designed to support the immune system but can clash with certain pharmaceuticals, affecting how your body responds to both.

1. Vitamin Interactions:

  • Vitamin E: Airborne contains vitamin E, which can have blood-thinning effects. It could potentially enhance the effects of anticoagulant drugs like warfarin, increasing the risk of bleeding.
  • Vitamin C: High doses of vitamin C can interfere with the effectiveness of certain heart medications, including statins and niacin, and can raise aluminum levels in those taking aluminum-containing antacids.

2. Mineral Interactions:

  • Zinc: Known to potentially interfere with the absorption and effectiveness of certain antibiotics and drugs used for treating rheumatoid arthritis like penicillamine.
  • Magnesium: If Airborne contains magnesium, it could interact with diuretics, muscle relaxants, and medications for osteoporosis, altering drug effectiveness or side effects.

3. Herbal Extract Interactions:

  • Echinacea: Often a key ingredient in immune supplements, Echinacea can alter how the body metabolizes many drugs leading to either decreased efficacy or increased toxicity.
  • Ginseng: May interfere with warfarin and similarly acting anticoagulants, as well as certain antidepressants, diabetes medications, and drugs that suppress the immune system.

It’s not just about individual ingredients, however. The overall formulation of Airborne could lead to synergistic effects that heighten interaction risks. Therefore, although Airborne is marketed as a safe, over-the-counter immune booster, when the individual components are combined with other medications, they could contraindicate or necessitate dosage adjustments.

Before adding Airborne, or any supplement, to your health regimen, consult a healthcare provider, particularly if you’re taking:

  • Blood thinners
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Antibiotics
  • Heart medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Antacids
  • Any prescription drug

A healthcare provider or pharmacist can provide personalized guidance and help you navigate potential interactions, ensuring that you’re not inadvertently putting yourself at risk while seeking to support your immune system.

Consider empirical evidence: Research studies and case reports provide valuable insights into how dietary supplements interact with medications. For example, a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlighted significant interactions between dietary supplements and prescription drugs. Another study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology emphasized the importance of monitoring herbal supplement use in patients on long-term medications.

Conclusion: While the convenience and accessibility of immune support supplements like Airborne make them a tempting addition to our daily routines, especially during cold and flu season, it's paramount to be aware that their interaction with prescription medications can be complex and sometimes dangerous. Vigilance and expert consultation are indispensable when combining such supplements with medications.

Sugar Content in Airborne Products: Hidden Health Costs

While many people reach for Airborne supplements in hopes of bolstering their immune system, especially during a bout of sniffles or before boarding a germ-packed airplane, it’s essential to look beyond the immune-supporting claims and consider the hidden health costs associated with their sugar content.

Many Airborne formulations, particularly the effervescent tablets and gummies, contain added sugars. These sugars can have detrimental effects on your health if consumed excessively. According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are (1):

  • Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
  • Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)

Even a seemingly small amount of added sugar in a supplement can contribute to this daily limit, potentially leading to a cascade of unwanted health effects, such as weight gain, increased blood pressure, and higher risk of type 2 diabetes (2).

Here's a breakdown of the sugar content in some popular Airborne products:

Product Type Sugar Content Per Serving
Airborne Effervescent Tablets 1 gram
Airborne Gummies 3 grams

While the effervescent tablets contain relatively low sugar levels, the gummies - often favored for their taste and ease of chewing - pack more sugar into your diet. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association links higher consumption of sugary beverages and foods to increased mortality rates, particularly from cardiovascular disease (3).

For individuals who are diabetic or pre-diabetic, monitoring sugar intake is critical. Excess sugar consumption can lead to blood sugar spikes, posing a major concern for these individuals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) elaborate on the impact of added sugars for those managing blood sugar levels, emphasizing the importance of reading labels and considering all sources of sugar in one's diet (4).

It's not just the quantity of sugar that matters, but also the form it takes. The gummy versions of Airborne contain glucose syrup and sucrose, which can have an immediate effect on blood sugar levels due to their high glycemic index. Registered dietitians often caution against frequent consumption of foods high in such simple sugars, highlighting the benefits of complex carbohydrates and fibers for long-term health (5).

While Airborne’s sugar content may not be a dealbreaker for everyone, those who are attentive to their sugar intake for health reasons should be aware of these added sugars. For those looking for a no-sugar-added alternative, Airborne does offer some sugar-free versions of its supplements, though it remains critical to review all the ingredients for overall health impact.

Addressing the Myth of Boosting Immune Function with Supplements

The concept of 'boosting' the immune system through supplements is a persistent one, and products like Airborne Immune Support Supplements have capitalized on this idea. However, a rigorous scientific examination reveals that the immune system is not simply a muscle to be pumped up at will. Rather, it is an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that work in complex harmony. Let's unpack the myth of boosting immune function and assess the role that supplements like Airborne might play.

The Immune System's Sophistication

First and foremost, it is essential to understand that the immune system is a finely tuned apparatus, which operates on a balance. Any claims of 'boosting' this system imply that it is not functioning at its optimum, which is not necessarily the case. A hyperactive immune system can lead to autoimmune diseases and allergies, indicating that more immune activity is not always better. Therefore, the goal should not be to boost but rather support and maintain immune function.

Ingredients in Question

Airborne supplements typically contain a blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Key ingredients often include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Echinacea
  • Ginger

While these nutrients and herbs have roles in maintaining health, their specific impact on the immune system is often overstated in marketing messages. For instance, while Vitamin C is known for its role in immunity, the evidence that it significantly wards off the common cold is not consistent. According to a Cochrane review, regular supplementation had a modest effect in reducing cold duration but was not shown to prevent the onset of colds except in cases of extreme physical stress.

Evidence Versus Marketing

Comprehensive reviews of the scientific literature suggest that supplements cannot 'boost' the immune system as claimed by many manufacturers. A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress reduction are the cornerstones of a healthy immune system. Supplements can play a role in filling dietary gaps but are not a substitute for these fundamental health practices.

Reducing Misinformation

One of the challenges with supplements is the propagation of misinformation. Lack of regulation and the use of vague terms like 'support' or 'enhance' can mislead consumers into expecting more from these products than what is scientifically founded. It is crucial to critically evaluate the claims made by supplement manufacturers and rely on peer-reviewed research rather than anecdotal evidence or marketing material.

Final Thoughts for Informed Consumers

Consumers considering Airborne or similar immune support supplements should approach these products with a critical eye. While certain ingredients may contribute to overall health, expectations of dramatically improved immune function should be tempered. It is advisable to consult healthcare professionals before beginning any new supplement regimen, especially for those with existing health conditions or those taking other medications.

Remember, no supplement can replace the well-established pillars of immune health: a balanced diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and stress management. These are the true 'supplements' to a healthy immune system, evidence-based and time-tested.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, Airborne does offer some sugar-free versions of its supplements. For individuals concerned about added sugars due to conditions like diabetes, or for those who are simply mindful of their sugar consumption, these sugar-free options might be more appropriate. However, it's crucial to review all the ingredients to ensure they align with your health needs and goals.

While Airborne contains ingredients that are essential for immune system functioning, scientific studies, such as those reviewed in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, suggest that these supplements may not prevent the onset of colds or flu in the general population. They might reduce the duration and severity of illness in some cases, particularly for those under significant physical stress, but there is no conclusive evidence that they can prevent these illnesses outright.

Airborne contains a mix of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can interact with a variety of prescription medications, altering their efficacy or increasing the risk of side effects. For instance, vitamin E in Airborne can enhance the blood-thinning effects of anticoagulants, potentially leading to increased bleeding risks. Always consult a healthcare provider or pharmacist to discuss any potential interactions before combining Airborne with prescription drugs.

Yes, there is a potential risk of overdose or toxicity if Airborne is taken in excessive amounts or combined with other supplements containing similar nutrients. Fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A can accumulate in the body and lead to toxicity, and excess minerals like Zinc and Selenium can cause adverse effects. It's important to adhere to the recommended dietary allowances and consult with a healthcare professional before taking high doses of supplements.

Ask a question about Airborne Immune Support Supplements and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • increased oxalate and uric acid
  • formation of kidney stones
  • suppressed copper absorption
  • neurologic disease from copper deficiency
  • anemia

Possible long-term side effects

  • hypervitaminosis a (blurred vision, bone pain, liver damage)
  • birth defects from excess vitamin a
  • selenium toxicity (gastrointestinal upsets, hair loss, fatigue, nerve damage)
  • copper deficiency from high zinc intake

Ingredients to be aware of

  • high doses of vitamin c
  • preformed vitamin a
  • zinc exceeding 40 mg/day
  • selenium above 400 mcg/day
  • certain herbal extracts (echinacea, ginseng)


  • may reduce cold duration
  • enhances t-cell-mediated immune function
  • supports immune cell function
  • antioxidant benefits
  • anti-inflammatory properties

Healthier alternatives

  • balanced diet
  • adequate sleep
  • regular physical activity
  • stress management
  • consultation before supplementation
  • reading labels for sugar content

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Zarbee's Elderberry Syrup

  • Daily immune support
  • Rich in Vitamin C
  • Includes Zinc
  • Natural berry flavor
  • Formulated for kids
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 01-07-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Joey Conners
Published on: 01-07-2024

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