By Jaelyn Copeland | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern
Vitamins and minerals are critical for several important bodily functions. Often referred to as micronutrients, vitamins and minerals are not produced in the body. Instead they are commonly consumed through food or supplements (CDC, 2022).
The berry of the black elder tree, or Sambucus nigra, known as elderberry, is full of antioxidants that we need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Although it is native to Europe, the black elder tree can also be found in North America, some regions of Asia, and Africa. Elderberry has been used in traditional medicine to promote general health for years. Whether it is used as an extract or juice concentrate from the whole fruit, elderberry is now frequently used in dietary supplements. Products containing elderberry are primarily marketed to support immune health. It also helps alleviate symptoms of respiratory illnesses, including the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19.
There are several different formulations of elderberry supplements; including syrups, pills, and lozenges. Numerous goods are sold expressly to children, notably those that come in chewable or gummy form. Additionally, some products combine the berries with other components of the black elder tree, most frequently elderflower. Elderberry may be hazardous if improperly prepared.
The stems and leaves of the elder tree, as well as unripe elderberries, contain cyanide-producing substances that can be poisonous if consumed. These chemicals can be eliminated through cooking, but many homemade elderberry recipes do not call for enough heat to completely evaporate all toxins, making them more likely to have negative effects than over-the-counter remedies.
There have been more complaints of elderberry products recently being contaminated. If you’re thinking about taking an elderberry supplement, please talk to your doctor first make sure the product you choose has received third-party certification.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 1). Micronutrient facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from