A Better Option than Airborne or Emergen-C?

I’ll admit, a big part of my flu season regimen is loading up on some extra vitamins (for the rest of my regimen, see How To Naturally Prevent the Flu).  When I get home, particularly after having been on the subway or another crowded germ-fest, the number two thing I do (after washing my hands with hot, soapy water) is to pop an effervescent immune-boosting vitamin.  It definitely does the trick (I rarely get sick), but this precaution comes with a fair amount of guilt on my end.  The drugstore standbys, Airborne and Emergen-C, come with their fair share of sub-par ingredients that I usually avoid.  So I’ve decided to take on a side by side comparison of these guys, as well as few other readily available and slightly harder to come by brands.  I was actually surprised to find that those drugstore standbys are the weaker of the 5 brands I found!  So without further ado, behold…

The Effervescent Immunity-Boost Showdown!

Scoring based on the following factors, which are each worth a maximum of 5 points:  
  1. Comprehensive vitamin and mineral content (CVM)

  2. Immune-boosting herbal additions (H)

  3. Quality of ingredients (Q)

  4. Calorie and sugar content (CS)

  5. Value (V)


1. AIRBORNE ($16.14 for 30 tablets)

Overall score: 15/25 (CVM=2; H=3; Q=2; CS=5; V=3)

Airborne is one of the first of this type of supplement, and is definitely a favorite on the market.  It offers some good, basic immune-boosting vitamins (of note, vitamins A, C and E) and some minerals.  It features some good immune-boosting herbs like ginger and echinacea and a blend of amino acids.  It’s lacking key B vitamins, has no vitamin D, and doesn’t have comprehensive mineral content.  But the biggest downfall are the additives.  Airborne is low in sugar, but has sucralose (Splenda), which is a potentially dangerous sugar substitute.  It also has maltodextrin, sorbitol, and mineral oil, all of which are additives your body can definitely do without.

Bottom line:  In a pinch, it can give you an immune boost and help prevent a cold from coming on, but the additives make it a poor choice for regular consumption.


2. EMERGEN-C ($11.45 for 30 packets)

Overall score: 12/25 (CVM=4; H=1; Q=2; CS=1; V=4)

Emergen-C scored surprisingly low when compared to the other products.  The one thing is does have going for it is a solid vitamin and mineral content.  Lots of B and C vitamins, a comprehensive mineral content, and an added boost of quercitin make it a pretty solid choice.  BUT, it’s high sugar and calorie content (a whopping 20 calories per serving, compared to 5 calories in all the other products), and a couple of questionable additives really deduct some major points.  It also has no beneficial herbs to boost immunity.

Bottom line:  Again, in a pinch, it gives you a bit of a nutrient boost, but no more so than a good multivitamin.


3. EBOOST ($22.35 for 20 packets)

Overall score: 19/25 (CVM=5; H=5; Q=3; CS=4; V=2)

This surprising standout can be found at most pharmacies, but is usually hanging out in a different department, with the diet pills and shakes, instead of in the cold and flu aisle with the big boys above.  That plus it’s poppy packaging may be masking a really great alternative!  It has high vitamin and mineral content, including B and C vitamins, a whopping 1000 IU of vitamin D, and plenty of essential minerals.  Plus, healthy goodies like super antioxidant green tea extract, immune-boosting astralagus, and mood-improving amino acid 5-HTP, and heart-healthy resveratrol!  Really the only downfalls are a couple of generally harmless additives like maltodextrin and silica.

Bottom line:  The high vitamin and mineral content plus awesome bonus herbs and supplements make this a really great winter immunity boost.  But this is no substitute for a daily, high quality multivitamin like those by Rainbow Light or New Chapter!  


4. WELLNESS FIZZ ($8.40 for 20 tablets)

Overall score: 22/25 (CVM: 3; H=5; Q=4; CS=5; V=5)

Made by reputable supplement company, Source Naturals, Wellness Fizz is basically Airborne with a natural makeover.  High in vitamins A, C and E, some minerals (including zinc), and a whole bunch of awesome immune-boosting herbs such as echinacea, elderberry, and a potent blend of herbs called yin chiao that really enhances the body’s natural defenses during cold and flu season. Sweetened with natural stevia extract, it doesn’t have any chemical additives and is flavored with fruit extracts.  As an added, it’s actually less expensive than it’s less healthy counterparts!

Bottom line:  This is the perfect immunity boosting supplement for daily use during the whole cold and flu season, chock full of super beneficial herbs and some key vitamins and minerals.  But again, not a substitute for a daily, high quality multivitamin like those by Rainbow Light or New Chapter!  


5. OLA LOA ENERGY ($24.99 for 30 packets)

Overall score: 19/25 (CVM=5; H=2; Q=5; CS=5; V=2)

This fizzy supplement is basically a comprehensive multivitamin, with the highest vitamin and mineral content of all the products reviewed.  This is great if you’re not taking a multivitamin, but if you do, you run the risk of overdoing it with too much of a good thing.  It also has a potent amino acid blend and no additives.  The only downfall here is that there isn’t much by way of immune-boosting herbs.

Bottom line:  A great immune-boosting multivitamin drink mix that will help to keep you healthy year-round, but when judged against the best multivitamins on the market (see above), it doesn’t offer anything that stands out.  Don’t use if you already take a multi or take high levels of other vitamins and minerals.  Good for people that have trouble swallowing pills.


And the winner is…..Wellness Fizz!

This is a really great seasonal immune-boosting effervescent vitamin and herbal blend to keep you healthy throughout the cold and flu season.  It is safe to use in addition to your regular supplementation. Wellness Fizz stands out for being more natural and having pretty awesome herbs.  It is also the best value by far!

Runners Up:  Ola Loa Energy and Eboost.  Since Ola Loa doesn’t function best as an immune-boosting supplement, but rather, is more of a multivitamin, I am inclined to give Eboost my vote for 2nd place.  It’s on the pricey side, but it is a healthier, accessible alternative to other drugstore brands.