Elderberries have a long history of traditional use among European herbalists dating all the way back to ancient times. The elderberry plant is so popular that its extracts are used in dietary supplements, jams, wines, juices, and even body care products like lotions.
Elderberry refers to the dark purple berries of the elder tree, belonging to the species Sambucus nigra, native to Europe, North Africa, Central and Western Asia. The flowers, leaves and berries all contain beneficial active compounds including flavonoids, lectins, and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the pigments that give these berries their rich purple color, and are the active compounds known to have antioxidant properties. Although anthocyanins are found in most, if not all, berries – elderberries have among the highest amounts – 3x the amount of anthocyanins of red raspberries and 6x the amount of anthocyanins as strawberries. The trees are identified by their distinct white flowers, and elderberry health benefits have been recognized for a long time.
One of the major questions people have when considering whether to take elderberry supplements is how to take them. Can you take elderberry every day and is it safe to take long term?
Here is a guide on the best way to take elderberry supplements. There are many choices for purchasing elderberry, and this guide can help you navigate through your different options.
What is Elderberry Taken For?
Elderberry is naturally filled with many components that support your overall health. The natural ingredients in these berries include anthocyanins that have potent antioxidant activity to neutralize damaging free radicals in our cells,. Although anthocyanins are found in most, if not all, berries – elderberries have among the highest amounts – 3x the amount of anthocyanins of red raspberries and 6x the amount of anthocyanins as strawberries.
What is the Right Dosage of Elderberry?
Elderberry can be added to your diet in the form of edible goods, such as jam, but these goods may contain added sugars, so they are not a feasible option for everyone. Many people prefer to take elderberry as a convenient dietary supplement that allows you to know how much you are taking and cuts out unwanted ingredients, such as excessive sweeteners or food coloring.
Elderberry supplements are available in formulations that contain precise amounts of the fruit extract that is safe for ingestion. Commonly offered supplements are sold as gummies or elderberry syrup. You can choose the formulation that suits you best based on your personal preference.
There are so many Elderberry formulations on the market, making it easy for consumers to get confused on the different dosages and forms. A lot of this confusion lies in the fact that there is no standard dose for elderberry and concentrations vary among different products and brands. Just like any other herbal or botanical supplement, the active compounds (in the case of elderberries, the anthocyanin amount) are what matters. For example, elderberry extracts have more active compounds than elderberry juice concentrate. Our Nature Made Elderberry Syrup offers 700 mg of elderberry extract (from 7 g elderberry fruit) along with 180 mg vitamin C and 3.3 mg per serving to help support the immune system.†
Can You Take Elderberry Daily?
Yes, you can! You can safely take elderberry daily as long as you follow the recommended dosage instructions. Elderberry is safe to take all year round.
Our Nature Made Elderberry Gummies with Vitamin C & Zinc can be taken daily, as long as they are taken within the recommended daily dosage for adults and children. You can also take these elderberry supplements for short periods at any time throughout the year. The ingredients in these elderberry gummies are completely safe, when following the Suggested Use on the label.
Nature Made offers two Elderberry supplements safe for children over 4 years old. Our Nature Made Kids First Elderberry Gummies combine elderberry with vitamin C and zinc to help support the immune system. Although these supplements are safe for kids, you should always follow the recommended dosage and don’t exceed the amount unless you’ve consulted a physician.
Are There Any Risks to Taking Elderberry?
The biggest concern of consuming elderberry is that there are parts of the plant that are not edible and can be toxic if ingested. The safest way to take elderberry is to make sure that you are only ingesting extracts of the cooked fruit. The leaves, bark, and uncooked fruit can be toxic if ingested and can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Ingesting large amounts of the uncooked berries, or other parts of the plant can cause more serious symptoms of poisoning because they have trace amounts of cyanide in them.
The cooked fruit can be safely ingested as a supplement. Elderberry supplements provide fruit extracts or fruit concentrates that will not cause harm as consuming the raw plant can. Still, you should not use other parts of the elderberry plant that you collect yourself in either raw or cooked form because they may release toxic substances that can harm you.
Also, be aware that there are many types of the elderberry plant. Only the American or European elderberry fruit that appears dark purple or blue are safe for ingestion. Other varieties of raw elderberry may contain red berries. These fruits are not edible and can be toxic if ingested. When in doubt, always stay on the safe side and confirm that what you are using is safe for consumption.
If you have any underlying medical conditions, it is also recommended that you check with your healthcare provider about whether taking an elderberry or zinc supplement is right for you. Pregnant women should also consult their healthcare provider before taking elderberry. There is no clear evidence to show that elderberry is not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, but your preferred health care practitioner can provide personalized advice on whether it is safe for you.
Can You Take Elderberry with Other Medication?
As with other supplements, it is possible for elderberry to interact with certain medications. If you currently take any medications regularly, check with your healthcare provider about taking elderberry to ensure that it does not interfere with how well either your medication or the supplement works. People with chronic conditions should always check with their doctor before taking any new supplements.
Choosing the Right Elderberry Supplement
Although elderberry has a history of being used for a wide variety of health reasons, when the goal is to supplement your diet to help support your immune system with Vitamin C and Zinc, the combination of elderberry with Vitamin C and Zinc provides the antioxidant and immune system support that is more helpful than just elderberry alone.†
Help support your immune system with Nature Made Elderberry Gummies with vitamin C & Zinc or Elderberry Syrup with vitamin C and zinc for the whole family.†
As a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Sandra educates healthcare professionals and consumers on nutrition, supplements, and related health concerns. Prior to joining Pharmavite, Sandra worked as a clinical dietitian at University of Chicago Medicine in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Sandra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, with minors in Spanish and Chemistry from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. She earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from RUSH University in Chicago, IL. As part of her Master’s program, Sandra performed research on physical activity participation and correlates in urban Hispanic women.