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Buying guide for best elderberry supplements

For centuries, elderberry has been appreciated for its medicinal properties. Elderberry supplements have gained popularity over the years, with many people adding a bottle or two to their medicine cabinets. These supplements may help strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health.

You should consider a few factors before you commit to an elderberry supplement. For one, what is your preferred formulation? These supplements are available as capsules or pills, syrups, extracts, and gummies. You also want to consider taste, organic certification, and quantity, as well as any health conditions and medications you currently take. Whatever your top priorities, a good shopping guide with recommendations can help inform your purchase.

elderberry supplements
Elderberries have been positively associated with heart health. They are rich in flavonoids, which have been linked to lower cholesterol, healthy blood sugar levels, and lower levels of cardiovascular disease.

How to buy the best elderberry supplements

Benefits

Elderberry is a natural medicinal plant. Also known by its scientific name, Sambucus nigra, the elderberry is an indigo-colored berry that tastes tart when fresh. Depending on its form, elderberry supplements derive their active ingredients from elderberry juice or extract. Note that raw elderberries are toxic to humans and can cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

For centuries, elderberry has been used by indigenous groups, such as Native Americans, to relieve pain and treat illness. Many of today’s consumers are starting to see the benefits of elderberry too. For example, elderberry juice and supplements are low in calories and high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from free radicals, which are linked to cancer and other serious health conditions.

Studies available from the National Institutes of Health have even linked elderberry supplements to shorter, less severe flu symptoms. For that reason, these supplements are most popular during cold and flu season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take them for a yearlong immune system boost.

Active ingredients

The primary active ingredient in elderberry supplements is elderberry extract, typically listed as Sambucus nigra or Sambucus nigra L on the label. A number of supplements include extra ingredients. Vitamin C, which is full of antioxidants, and zinc are both common additions, and both are known to help fight colds too.

An elderberry supplement includes an average of 1,000 to 4,500 milligrams of elderberry. Since the amount of elderberry varies depending on the form of the supplement, it’s best to consult the packaging for dosage directions.

Form

Elderberry supplements are available in four main forms: capsules, syrup, extract, and gummies.

Capsules are filled with a powder that includes elderberry extract. They are commonly swallowed, though you can also open one and pour the powder into applesauce or pudding. Capsule supplements are great for anyone with dietary restrictions, those who are diabetic, or anyone who needs to watch their sugar intake.

Syrup is popular with children and picky eaters. The syrup is made from elderberries and a sweetener like sugar or raw honey. You can make elderberry syrup at home if you have fresh or dried elderberries on hand. Elderberry syrup is pricier than capsules or gummies. Also note that if you’re looking to avoid sugar, syrup isn’t the best choice.

Extract is another liquid option for elderberry supplements. Unlike syrup, the extract distills the most potent part of the elderberry with a solvent like alcohol or glycerin. Some extracts also add a bit of flavor to neutralize the taste, but it isn’t nearly as much as what’s found in a syrup supplement.

Gummies are among the most popular ways to take elderberry supplements. The pleasant taste makes them a good choice for adults and kids alike. They’re also a fine choice for people who have trouble swallowing pills or prefer a supplement with fewer calories than syrup. Keep in mind that gummy supplements do include sugar and preservatives, such as pectin and gelatin.

Dosage

Elderberry supplements are perfectly safe for children, with the right dosage. Children ages three and up can take a supplement with 300 to 500 milligrams of elderberry. While you can give a child a supplement meant for adults, you’d have to adapt the dosage accordingly. It’s easier to buy one of the many elderberry supplements available for kids. These are typically in gummy or syrup form (especially those for infants) to appeal to picky palates.

Toddlers and older children can take elderberry supplements on a daily basis, whether that’s year-round or just during cold and flu season. Babies should only take elderberry supplements on occasion. Regardless of the child’s age, check with your pediatrician before giving your kids daily supplements.

There are definitely benefits to taking elderberry supplements on a daily basis, but for some people, it might suffice to keep a bottle on hand during the winter months.

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What features should I look for in elderberry supplements?

Organic

A supplement is only as good as the quality of its ingredients. Look for an elderberry supplement with the USDA Organic logo on the label. It indicates that the elderberries used in the supplement were grown in soil that did not contain prohibited pesticides. This can help ensure that the supplement has as few chemicals as possible. Also, checking the ingredients label is never a bad idea whether the supplement has the certified USDA Organic logo on it or not.

Taste

Raw elderberries are tart, tangy, and bitter. In a supplement, the bitterness is typically neutralized with a sweetener. With the exception of capsules, most elderberry supplements taste a bit sweet. It’s common for elderberry syrup to be sweetened with lemon, honey, ginger, and/or corn syrup. The syrup can also include other fruit flavors like blackberry. Elderberry syrup would taste pleasant taken with a sweet fruit like raspberries too.

Elderberry gummies are similar to gummy candies. They are sweet and tart, therefore perfect for children over the age of three. Toddlers should stick with elderberry syrups, and there are some made specifically for kids.

elderberry jam
DID YOU KNOW?
You can make elderberry jelly, elderberry pastries, and even elderberry syrup. Do not pick elderberries in the wild. Source fresh or dried elderberries from a trusted health store.
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How much do elderberry supplements cost?

Inexpensive

As is the case with most vitamin supplements, you get what you pay for. Fortunately, there’s a wide price range when it comes to elderberry supplements. At the lower end, you can expect to pay between $8 and $15 for a bottle of 60 to 90 capsules. Depending on the dosage, this is enough for a month or two if the supplement is taken daily.

Mid-range

In the $15 to $20 range, you can find more extracts, syrups, and gummies in addition to capsules. You’ll also find more certified organic supplements in this range. Like capsules, the syrups and extracts come in quantities that are sufficient to take daily for one or two months. Many of these supplements also contain higher levels of elderberry (2,000 milligrams or more).

Expensive

If price isn’t a factor, spend $20 or more and you’ll find supplements containing even higher levels of elderberry. Additionally, it’s easy to find supplements that are certified organic and pleasant-tasting in quantities that last two months or more.

Pregnant women should check with their healthcare provider before taking elderberry supplements.

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Tips

  • Fortify your diet with antioxidants. It’s a great idea to eat foods that are high in polyphenols, one of the antioxidants found in elderberry supplements. These include blackberries, apples, almonds, spinach, and black and green tea.
  • Check the ingredients. If opting for gummies, vegans should look for “vegan” on the packaging. Otherwise, avoid elderberry supplements with certain food dyes, gelatin, and beeswax.
  • Check the expiration date. Elderberry supplements do expire, so check the bottom of the packaging for an expiration date. Store the supplements in a cool, dry place.
elderberry supplements
Even though elderberry supplements are positively linked to shorter, milder flus and colds, they aren’t a substitute for vaccination. If you’re serious about flu prevention, an annual flu shot is your best bet.

FAQ

Q. Is it okay to take elderberry supplements every day?

A. Yes. In fact, many of these supplements are created with daily dosage in mind. Be sure to check the label for dosing directions.

Q. Can I take elderberry supplements if I’m on other medications?

A. These supplements haven’t been shown to seriously interact with other drugs. But to be certain, we recommend checking with your healthcare professional. People with autoimmune conditions should likely avoid these supplements, because elderberry supplements are meant to stimulate the immune system.

Q. I heard that elderberries contain cyanide. Is this true?

A. The elderberry plant does not contain cyanide, but it does contain cyanogenic glycosides. People should not eat the raw fruit or the flowers or seeds of an elderberry plant. They are poisonous.

 

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