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Regardless of age, going back to school season is a great time to make sure you have a few of the essential health areas covered. We need to focus on four areas:  Immune Health, Stress, Sleep, and Memory/Focus. This blog will dive into what supplements can be integrated into your or a loved one’s daily life to ensure you get the desired results. However, before we dive into the supplements to help in these areas, the following are some fundamental tips for supporting your back-to-school concerns.

Diet- Diet changes will play a massive role in your or your child’s health throughout the school year. Of the recommendations listed below, removing sugar and refined foods has the most significant role in supporting a healthy immune system. Refined foods include bagels, most cereals, pasta, “white foods,” etc. Sugar may seem obvious, but most parents only think of candy as the source of sugar. Sugar and refined foods (convert quickly into sugar) negatively impact your immune system. As a pharmacist, I noticed children would get sick after Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and birthday parties. It wasn’t until I got involved in natural health that I realized why this happened.

Exercise- Daily exercise or activity can significantly improve immune function, decrease stress, and improve sleep and cognition.

Rest- Another key for everyone is keeping your immune system happy. I always say that we are stuck in bed when we are sick because our body is making up for lost time from the past. Getting 8-10 hours of sleep every night will remarkably improve your immune and mental health.

Supplements for Back-to-School Concerns

Immune Health

Immune health seems to have always been a concern, not just because of COVID-19. Keeping your immune system functioning optimally should always be a need. From our little ones who seem to bring every bug home from school to adults heading back to college again, there are several clinically studied supplements to be considered. Here is the shortlist:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D impacts the two main branches of our immune system: Innate and Adaptive[i].   Innate immunity is something you are born with and is considered the body’s first line of defense against disease. On the other hand, adaptive immunity develops as we age. As we get exposed to infections, allergens, and vaccines, we produce antibodies to fight diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and allergens.

Numerous published clinical studies confirm that low blood vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of infections.[ii]. Below are a few compelling examples of how low blood vitamin D levels put you at risk.

Influenza (viral infection):  A therapeutic dose of vitamin D showed that vitamin D administration resulted in a 42% decrease in the incidence of influenza infection.[iii]

Upper respiratory infections:  Individuals with lower vitamin D levels (<30 ng/ml) were more likely to self-report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient levels.[iv].

For the best possible results, I suggest checking your blood levels of vitamin D. A vitamin D test can be purchased online, or you can ask your doctor. Knowing your vitamin D level will help you adjust your dose to reach a healthy range.


ImmunoLin® is my go-to supplement for both gut and immune health support. With 40+ clinical studies, this has more than been shown to help support your immune system and improve gut health. Since we know that the gut plays an enormous role in immune health, having this one-two punch will go a long way.


We can all agree that going back to school is stressful. However, keeping our stress feelings in check will help you feel better and be in a better mood and help with sleep, cognition, and immune health.


Affron® is a great fit here because it has a clinical study using it in adolescents and adults. Affron® works within the body in multiple ways to address your stress. It does not cause drowsiness and requires a low daily dose of just 28mg. Being safe and effective in children makes this an excellent choice for children 12 and up.


Zembrin®, on the other hand, has been shown to stop or slow the stress impulse where it begins. Slowing the stress impulse helps you stay calm and even improves your ability to concentrate and focus.


Ashwagandha is mother nature’s king of adaptogens. Adaptogens help your body adjust to both physical and emotional stressors. Research with ashwagandha has shown it works in low doses to help relieve feelings of stress, improve cognition and sleep, and support a healthy immune system.

These three ingredients would be excellent if combined in a daily serving.


Sleep is critical for multiple reasons when we discuss going back to school. Poor sleep is linked to increased issues with stress, decreased concentration and focus, and weakened immunity. Three ingredients for a great night’s sleep come to mind:  affron®, Levagen®+, and Zylaria.


Affron® mentioned above in Stress also has studies showing its benefits for sleep. For example, a recent study showed that taking just 14mg one hour before sleeping improved sleep quality and the time it takes to fall asleep.


Levagen®+ works differently than the other two supplements mentioned here and supports the endocannabinoid receptors (it is not CBD). A clinical study showed that taking 350mg 1-hour before sleep improved the time it takes to fall asleep and the time it takes to wake up in the morning.


Zylaria® works by supporting both sleep and mood, potentially by promoting GABA levels in the brain. GABA is naturally produced by the body and is utilized to block or slow specific brain signals, decreasing or slowing the nervous system’s activity. Because of this action, GABA has a calming effect and helps with stress, fear, and sleep.


As we can see from the previous sections on stress and sleep, many of those ingredients could easily be used for concentration and focus due to stress and poor sleep’s impact on mental health and cognition.


COGNIGRAPETM comes from red grapes and has been shown to aid cognitive function in areas such as attention and immediate and delayed memory and improve mood.


Studies with bacopa show improvement in speed of visual information processing, learning rate, memory consolidation, retention of new information, and improvements in working memory.


nooLVL® was originally studied in gamers and showed its impact on areas we would like to improve: working memory, reaction time, reasoning, selective attention, and concentration.


HEAL9TM brings us into the world of the microbiome.   Studies with this impressive probiotic show it impacts the gut-brain axis. HEAL9TM has been shown to improve working memory and word recall.   Two important factors for anyone heading back to school.

The suggestions above are geared to address the critical areas in which they work and are also intended to be combined. Often, we have underlying issues that link all these areas together, i.e., stress causing sleep and immune problems, getting sick causing you to feel stressed and not sleep well, or a bad night’s sleep weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to being stressed. So, consider taking ingredients from each category above to ensure you are on your way to a healthy and enjoyable school season. If you aren’t headed back to school, but off to work, the same supplements are great for your daily grind.



[i] Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881–886.


[ii] Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC, Holick MF, Grant WB, Madronich S, Garland CF, Giovannucci E, Epidemic influenza and vitamin D., Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec; 134(6):1129-40.

[iii] 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 May; 91(5):1255-60.

[iv] Ginde A, Mansbach J, Camargo C, 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 Feb 23; 169(4):384-90.