Immunity shots and wellness shots, aka the tiny little bottles of juice you might spot at the grocery store, often claim to boost your immune system. And with illnesses like COVID-19, the flu, RSV, and the common cold running rampant, it might sound pretty promising. The reality is, they might not be the cure-all they claim to be. We chatted with registered dietitian nutritionist May Zhu to find out the truth behind immunity shots — and whether they’re actually worth your money.
May Zhu is a Chicago-based registered dietician nutritionist who works with with women to help them build healthier relationships with food.
What are immunity shots?
The 1- to 3-ounce drinks are typically made with juices (like ginger or citrus), vitamins, and minerals (think: vitamins C and D, turmeric, or zinc) — all of which are generally nutritious. Depending on the type, they might also be called ginger shots, apple cider vinegar shots, turmeric shots, or vitamin C shots. And many of the companies that make them promise they'll boost your natural immunity with just one or two swigs.
Do immunity shots work though?
There’s usually nothing wrong with adding an extra dose of vitamins to your diet, said Zhu. But they’re not the miracle drink you might think they are. "We really can't say there's enough evidence to support any type of therapeutic use to cure anything,” she said. Meaning they won’t necessarily keep you from getting sick.
While many of the ingredients in immunity or wellness shots are part of a balanced diet, the shots themselves can’t replace whole fruits and vegetables. Because those also contain fiber, which supports both your digestive and immune systems, said Zhu. She recommends prioritizing getting fruits and veggies on your plate first, then introducing these drinks to help fill any nutrient gaps.
On that note, wellness shots also aren't a good substitute for other methods of staying healthy. Vaccines like the flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine can give your immune system an added layer of protection and actually prevent you from getting sick. While nutritious foods and staying hydrated can keep your body nourished with the vitamins and minerals you need. Pair that with hygienic practices like washing your hands, and you might be saying, 'Immunity shots, who?'
If I do want to try immunity shots, how often should I drink them?
Drinking one wellness shot every now and then isn’t doing a ton for your health, said Zhu. To get the most health benefits from them, she recommends making them “a very regular part of your routine.” Think: Every few days or once a week.
If you want to try them out but don’t want to shell out the cash (they can cost $3 or more per bottle), you can make homemade wellness shots — or just incorporate some of the ingredients into your regular diet. Zhu says to look for natural sources of vitamin C like pineapple, orange, lemon, or lime juice for your DIY immunity shot recipe. As well as turmeric and black pepper, which are anti-inflammatory.
It might be tempting to stock up on wellness shots to keep you and your family healthy. But they aren’t the quick fix you might be looking for. So prioritize those tried-and-true practices to really keep illnesses away — and feel free to add immunity shots into a balanced routine.
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