New Delicious Elderberry Zinc Gummies for Both Kids and Adults

We have a new product for the winter “Fight Against Illness” in stock that I’ve been really impressed with- our new Zand Elderberry Zinc Gummies. Zinc is a fantastic immune booster, and has also been shown in numerous studies to help reduce the duration of colds and respiratory infections. 

The trouble with zinc is that it generally tastes terrible (sorry zinc lozenges, but you know it’s true). I don’t know what kind of witchery Zand has performed on these gummies, but they taste amazing (and they still contain a bunch of zinc).

Elderberry is a potent antiviral, and taking zinc at the very first signs of illness has been shown to help reduce the duration of colds.

These new gummies are perfect for picky kids (or adults) as an immune boosting treat. I’ve been putting a couple in my daughter’s lunch every day and she loves them (honestly, she says like they taste like candy).

Best of all, they’re on sale this month for 25% off, so be sure to give them a try!

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A New Favorite: Renew Life’s Organic Prebiotic + Probiotics

We have a new line of probiotics that I wanted to write about since I’ve been really impressed with them. It’s a new line of probiotics from Renew Life that combine well researched probiotic strains with organic prebiotics.

Prebiotics are special fibers that help good bacteria to flourish in our bodies. Prebiotics are a newer ingredient, and the idea of combining them with probiotics into a supplement seems like a really smart one to me, since you’re not just taking probiotics, you’re giving those good bacteria what they need to multiply and be sustained in your body.

I’ve been taking their Strong and Ready Organic Prebiotic + Probiotic for a little over a month now, and have been really happy with it. They’re in easy to swallow vegetarian capsules, which I love, and the strains contained in that formula have been researched to help specifically with boosting the immune system and preventing respiratory infections, which definitely sounds good to me!  They’re also gluten, dairy, and soy free, which I appreciate.

They also have several different formulas with targeted probiotics for a variety of issues like constipation or diarrhea or even for women’s health that contain cranberry for preventing UTIs as well as unique strains that help with vaginal health.

The nice thing about these blends are that they address specific conditions, while still having the basic strains needed for everyday health. I feel like this is especially noteworthy, since we have several probiotics at the store that we would especially recommend for specific, acute issues, but they are just kind of focused on those problems, and wouldn’t fill the role of your “every day probiotic” for general digestive and immune health.

Another thing about these prebiotic + probiotic blends is that they contain documented types and amounts of prebiotics (the substances that help to feed and support the body’s own good bacteria) that have been shown in scientific research to make a true difference. In speaking to an educator at Renew Life about these new products, he had a quote I wanted to share since I really liked it. He said a lot of probiotics (and I would say many supplements in general), “Shout on the front, whisper on the back”, meaning that prebiotics have become a buzzword of sorts, and that many products have advertising “shouting” something on the front of the label, but then will have just a whisper (or a tiny, negligible amount) of actual beneficial ingredients on the back of the label where it lists the nutrition facts. That’s what we’re about at Pass Health Foods- finding and offering supplements that make a real difference, that are scientifically documented as being effective, beyond whatever the advertising says.

Since we’re featuring them this month, we’ll be having all the new organic probiotic + probiotics from Renew Life on sale for 25% off from now through the end of December. Additionally, we have a good supply of $3 off coupons for them, so with the sale plus the coupon it works out to a really good deal!  If you’re looking to change up your probiotic, or you don’t take one on a regular basis, this is a great one to try.


Preventative Immune Health for Kids and Adults

Now is the time for preventative immune health for both kids and adults, particularly since it’s been such a warm fall, transitioning to cooler, damp weather can sometimes be a shock to the system- not to say that cold weather causes illness, but being indoors more frequently with other people’s germs makes falling prey to illness more likely. Also, interestingly, some viruses like rhinovirus (the cause of the common cold) replicates better at cooler temperatures, and the flu virus is thought to survive better in cool, dry temperatures.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to post some links to previous articles about a variety of immune boosters which can help both prevent and reduce the duration of illness.

Our Favorite Immune Boosting Supplements

This article really runs down the full list of immune supplements and how they work.

Zinc Lozenges: Clinically Proven to Boost the Immune System

A Natural, Herbal Version of Tamiflu for Flu Recovery

Experts are already forecasting a bad flu season for this year (I can’t imagine how they know that, but I’m inclined to believe it). If there’s one thing that is best against the flu virus (and that’s backed up by research), it’s elderberry.

Vitamin D, How Much to Take?

Ester C, a Better Form of Vitamin C for Boosting Immune Function

Keeping Kids Healthy This Winter

We also have a new kid’s probiotic that I wanted to mention, a chewable kids probiotic from Renew Life called Ear, Nose, and Throat. It contains a combination of probiotics that have been specifically chosen for their researched benefits for the entire respiratory system (literally the ears, nose, and throat, like the name), one of the probiotics it contains has even been positively researched for its benefit in helping to prevent strep throat and other bacterial infections.

One study published on PubMed found that kids with recurrent strep throat who took this specific probiotic strain and had an 80% reduction in streptococcal infections when compared with the control group. I do feel like certain kids are more prone to strep throat for whatever reason, so while this probiotic would be great for all kids during cold and flu season, I would definitely recommend it for those kids who have had recurrent strep throat.

A Natural Alternative to Tamiflu for Flu Prevention and Treatment

The flu this year is absolutely horrendous- health officials have said this is the worst flu season in nearly a decade, with the rate of hospitalizations continuing to increase. We all know that washing hands helps to prevent the spread of viruses, but it’s impossible to completely reduce your risk. 

Tamiflu has been approved as a prescription antiviral against the flu, but it is not without side effects, some of which can be severe.

The best way to stay healthy is to do what you can to boost your body’s own immune system, since we are every day exposed to bacteria and viruses, and it is our immune system that works to fight them off and keep us healthy; it’s when the immune system is overwhelmed that we fall ill.

There are a number of great, well researched immune boosting supplements that we would recommend at Pass Health Foods, but the best there is against the flu is elderberry syrup, also known as Sambucus. Elderberry has natural antiviral properties, and has been researched with great results for preventing and reducing the duration of the flu. In clinical trial of elderberry syrup, it found that elderberry cured 90% of flu infections after 72 hours. In the same trial, the patients receiving a placebo needed six days for recovery.

New research, however, has even found that the combination of elderberry syrup and the herb echinacea is as effective as the prescription antiviral Tamiflu against the flu virus.

The study gave 473 patients who exhibited flu symptoms elderberry extract and echinacea or Tamiflu within the first 48 hours of the beginning of the illness. The recovery rates from the combination of elderberry and echinacea were the same as Tamiflu  (the elderberry and echinacea group actually had slightly better recovery rates when compared to the prescription Tamiflu), but without side effects- the researchers reported that patients taking oseltamivir (Tamiflu) were more likely to experience gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and vomiting than the supplement group.

We have had a large number of our customers confirm this research, who have had great results taking the combination of elderberry syrup and echinacea.

Finally, I’ll share the story of one of the ladies who works at the Revival Yoga Studio in Palos Heights, which is across the street from the health food store (if you’ve never been in there, I’d really recommend stopping by- it’s a gorgeous yoga studio). She told me of how her son had contracted influenza, and was prescribed Tamiflu. A few days later, the rest of her family got sick and was confirmed by their physician that they did in fact have the flu. She decided that instead of doing Tamiflu for the rest of her family, that they would instead take elderberry syrup and echinacea. She said that the group of them that took the combination of elderberry and echinacea actually got better faster than her son that was on Tamiflu, and had didn’t have the digestive side effects that he experienced.

Elderberry can be taken preventatively against illness, but it’s best to save the echinacea until you feel the beginnings of sickness, since research has shown that that is when it is most effective. If you've been sick for a while, supplementing with elderberry alone is the best course of action, due to its potent antiviral compounds. 

We recommend Nature’s Answer Sambucus Elderberry Syrup, which is the highest potency of elderberry per dose of any available, and Natural Factor’s Echinamide echinacea extract for the best results.

Please stop by the health food store if you need any more information so we can help you further. Take care of yourselves!



How to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

This month, as so many are sick around us, I wanted to highlight some of our favorite immune boosters in a few articles I’ll link below.


Elderberry + Echinacea: An Effective Natural Alternative to Tamiflu

ImmunoShield: Our Favorite Overall Immune Boosting Blend (it’s also on sale for February)

Zinc Lozenges: Clinically Proven to Boost the Immune System

Preventative Health for Cold and Flu Season: Vitamin D & Probiotics

Also, I wanted to mention a few new immune supplements we’ve brought in that we really like. The first are Elderberry Gummies by Nature’s Way. Elderberry, also known as Sambucus, is a fantastic anti-viral and is great for boosting the immune system. These gummies are an easy way to add some elderberry to your diet- I’ve been putting some in my daughter’s lunch (here’s an article on the benefits of using gummies for school lunches) to give her a preventative immune boost. 

In addition to the elderberry gummies, we’ve also found an amazing new probiotic designed specifically for respiratory health- their Respiratory Care Probiotic. Probiotics have long been used for helping the immune system, but this new probiotic contains specific clinically researched strains which have been shown to be beneficial to respiratory health, helping to activate the immune system against viruses as well as preventing virus replication. I’ve been taking it and feel it’s really helped.

I also wanted to share a couple articles on essential oils which can be helpful during cold and flu season. The first lists a number of scientific studies on the antibacterial and antiviral benefits of different essential oils, and the second has information on our own “Thieves Oil” blend.

Disinfecting the Air with Essential Oils (with links to research studies)

Nature’s Shield: Our Version of the “Thieves Oil” Blend

Be Well!

Zinc Lozenges: Clinically Proven to Boost the Immune System

As the weather gets cooler, an increase in illness is often the unhappy companion of autumn. I wanted to share a simple thing to add to your arsenal against colds and respiratory infections- zinc. Most people have heard that zinc lozenges are good for the immune system, and of course I know they’re good for you, but that knowledge up until now had not made me ever want to take them- for the simple reason that I’d had them before and thought they tasted disgusting, and I basically swore them off.

Then recently, I read a new study on zinc lozenges and the immune system, and I was pretty much astounded. The analysis, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Open, found that zinc lozenges containing zinc gluconate were found to shorten the duration of colds by 33 percent!  Well, that convinced me (since that’s really an amazing amount). Strangely, zinc lozenges that contained vitamin C (a nutrient long used for the immune system) were significantly less effective.

Science had convinced me, and I began a search for the best tasting (or at least one that I could stand the taste of) zinc lozenge. Thankfully, my quest was not in vain, I found Zand’s Zinc Elderberry Lozenges- lozenges that contain the requisite zinc gluconate and no vitamin C. I’ve been really impressed by how good they taste (even my seven year old loves them), particularly since they contain zinc, which isn’t the greatest tasting mineral. An added benefit of these zinc lozenges is that they also contain elderberry, a superfruit with fantastic antiviral properties and they’re also low in sugar. 

Since I wanted to write about how great zinc lozenges are, we put all of our Zand zinc lozenges on sale for 25% off. We have a number of other flavors, but zinc elderberry is my favorite. Zinc taken in supplement form is good for the immune system as well, but the action of slowly sucking on a lozenge containing zinc is what has been shown to make the biggest difference when it comes to reducing cold symptoms.

I’d definitely recommend keeping a few bags of zinc lozenges in the house if illness happens to visit you. Best of all, zinc lozenges can be used in conjunction with other immune boosters for an even greater immune response. 

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The Many Benefits of Probiotics, the Good Bacteria Your Body Needs

There are many wonderful natural products that have all sorts of benefits, but probiotics are part of a handful of supplements which we believe are vitally important for people of all ages- they’re a group of supplements that everyone would benefit from.

Probiotics, or “good bacteria”, are best known as an aid to digestive health, where they have impressively documented benefits for helping the body to digest and process foods. Probiotics also help the body to assimilate nutrients from foods and improve nutrient availability.

Probiotics are also fantastic for the immune system, enhancing our bodies own disease fighting white blood cells. One yearlong study showed that children who took probiotic supplements had significantly fewer upper respiratory infections (colds, etc.) and had a 30 percent reduction in missed school days. Research also found similar immune system benefits for adults.

In addition to activating the immune system against illness, it appears that probiotics are also able to modulate the immune system to diminish over reactive responses to allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Interestingly, new research is also showing benefits for bone health for people who use probiotics. One new study found that in animals with hormone changes similar to what happens in women after menopause those who consumed probiotics were able to stave off bone loss compared to the group that was not given probiotics. The control group that did not use probiotics lost half their bone density compared to the probiotics who were able to retain bone density.

Also, pregnant women who use probiotics have been shown to have children with a lower incidence of eczema and atopic dermatitis. Additionally, research has suggested that pregnant women who use probiotics may have children with fewer food allergies.

Probiotics can also have benefits to overall brain health and mood. One study which was measuring the benefits of probiotics on IBS found that the probiotic takers had twice as many people that saw decreases in depression and depressive symptoms when compared with a placebo.

There are many wonderful, high-quality probiotics that we have at the store, but I wanted to specifically mention one by Flora called Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic, a probiotic which has actually won a number of different awards. Flora is a small company that makes exceptional products. They don’t come out with a ton of different “hot, new products” every year, but instead specialize in a few different areas, like probiotic supplements, where they really excel.

Flora’s Super 8 is a mix of eight well researched, scientifically identified strains that have been shown to survive in the body and form colonies.

Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic has probiotic strains that aid digestion, breaking down carbohydrates and helping to synthesize B vitamins. It also contains specific strains which have been shown in research to help inhibit the growth of bad bacteria in the colon and GI tract. Super 8 is also formulated with strains that have been found to help reduce gas formation as well as other strains that help with urinary tract health and even a strain that helps with lowering cholesterol levels!

Best of all, it’s a high potency probiotic (42 billion per pill) that is very reasonably priced, especially when compared to other probiotics at similar potencies. This September, we’ll be having our Udo’s Choice Super 8 Probiotic on sale for 25% off, so it’s a great time to try it!




Our Favorite Immune Boosting Supplements

I feel like November is the true beginning of cold and flu season, so I wanted to write about some of our favorite immune boosters that can help you through. Prevention is truly worth a pound of cure, so it’s a good idea to work on keeping yourself healthy while you’re still well.

The number one that I’d recommend for both prevention and if you do happen to get sick is Irwin Naturals Immuno Shield. It’s an amazing mix of different antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting supplements. It can be taken preventatively by taking one or two a day, but where it really shines it when you start to feel like you’re coming down with something. Taking a higher dose at the very first signs of illness really makes a difference. I’ve had numerous times where I started to feel sick in the evening, and I’d take 4 softgels right then and then another 4 before bed. It really works, because the majority of the time I would wake up feeling fine the next day, thankfully. I HATE being sick. We all take Immuno Shield at the store. It really does help. Plus, it’s 25% off this month, so it’ a good idea to stock up now.

I’ll link to a few other fantastic products for the immune system below which we’ve written articles on- click on the link for more information. I’m working on trying to keep our newsletters a little shorter- though I’m not having an easy time of it, haha!

Olive leaf is also great for the immune system, plus it lowers blood pressure.

Aged garlic extract is wonderful for the immune system, and also helps with cardiovascular health as well as lowering blood pressure.

Oregano oil and neti pots can be helpful for sinus infections or people prone to sinus issues.

Elderberry extract, also known as Sambucus, is an amazing antiviral, particularly against the flu. We have a new elderberry extract that we recommend- Nature’s Answer Sambucus. It’s the highest potency elderberry available. Elderberry is also safe for both kids and adults.

This is a helpful article for immune boosters that are safe for kids.

Quercetin is a great natural antihistamine that can also help with boosting the immune system, particularly for athletes.

Probiotics are great for both digestion and boosting the immune system. They’re especially useful for kids in preventing respiratory infections.

This is a nice article that focuses on several different immune boosting supplements, particularly Vitamin D and mushroom extracts like beta glucan and AHCC.

Be well!


Healthy Q & A: Vitamin C

Q: I’ve always taken extra vitamin C in the winter months, but wanted to see if it was really necessary. Do you think supplements really make a difference?

A:  Vitamin C is an absolutely fantastic supplement to be taking; since it is involved in so many processes in the body- it’s also great for the immune system. Vitamin C is abundant in fresh produce, citrus fruits in particular, and is crucial for making sure the body runs right and is an integral part of the body being able to heal itself.  A vitamin C supplement is not a substitute for a healthy diet, but can be especially helpful to fill in gaps in a diet, for people who many not eat as well as they would like. There are also groups of people who are more likely to be deficient in vitamin C than others, like smokers (that includes second hand smoke), people with digestive disorders or malabsorption issues, and people who eat a limited variety of foods.

Not all vitamin C supplements are created equal, however. With vitamin C, and all supplements really, it’s all about absorption- some forms really are better than others and produce greater effects in the body. Most vitamin C supplements are in the form of ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is not at all bad, though there is a newer extract of vitamin C called Ester-C that has been shown in research to be more effective, lasting longer in the body and performing more activities in the body than the standard ascorbic acid form.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means that it does not hang around in the body like fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and E for example) do; because of this, vitamin C needs to be ingested on a daily basis. Even with being taken every day, the amount of time that vitamin C is active in the body is significantly differs between the commonly taken ascorbic acid vitamin C and Ester-C. Research has found ascorbic acid to be in the body a maximum of eight hours after ingestion, whereas the Ester-C form was active in the body a full 24 hours after consumption. That’s a huge difference in the antioxidant power between the two vitamins.

Ester-C has also been shown in new research to significantly boost immune cell function. In the placebo controlled crossover study, 1000mg of Ester-C increased vitamin C levels for a full 25 hours in white blood cells known as leukocytes, which protect the body against infectious diseases and foreign invaders. Vitamin C, particularly the Ester-C form, helps the manufacture more of these immune boosting white blood cells, which work tirelessly to keep you healthy.

All of our Solgar Ester-C supplements are on sale for 25% off for the month of October. Another benefit of Ester-C is that it is gentle on the body and does not cause stomach irritation as the more common ascorbic acid form can in some individuals. Everyone would benefit from additional vitamin C, especially as we enter cold and flu season, and there is not a better form available than Ester-C.

Supplement Spotlight: Garlic

We’re usually always excited to read about supplements that are new or “hot” at the moment, but I wanted to write instead this month about a supplement that has been around for ages, but none the less, has many benefits that deserve to be reexamined- garlic.

Most of us eat garlic occasionally, and are vaguely aware of its health benefits, but I wanted to write about its many benefits when used as part of a daily supplement regimen.

Garlic for cardiovascular health

One of garlic’s most interesting benefits is for helping to prevent atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of fats and cholesterol (plaque) on the artery walls, which then restricts blood flow. These arterial plaques can then burst, causing blood clots.

Atherosclerosis often happens with age, but it’s definitely something to be avoided! Garlic can prevent these problems by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, but also by inhibiting platelet stickiness.

Garlic supplementation has been found to reduce the size of plaque deposits in animal studies by fifty percent. One double blind human study found that a dosage of 900mg per day of garlic extract “significantly slowed the development of atherosclerosis when measured by an ultrasound”. Another human garlic study measured the flexibility of the aorta (the body’s main artery) in two hundred participants and reported that those who took garlic supplements had more flexibility in their arteries, which indicated a lower rate of atherosclerosis.

Garlic for preventing heart attacks

Garlic also can help to prevent heart attacks. In research, participants who had already suffered a heart attack that used garlic supplements had a reduced risk of a second heart attack, and a fifty percent lower death rate. Garlic works to prevent heart attacks by stimulating a process in the body in which blood clots are dissolved. Because of this action, garlic supplements should not be taken by people using prescription blood thinners without speaking to their doctor.

Garlic and high blood pressure

Benefits for high blood pressure have also been found after taking aged garlic extract supplements. Studies have shown that taking garlic supplements twice a day were able to lower their systolic blood pressure by twelve points.

Garlic for boosting the immune system

Garlic is great for the immune system and works in part by helping to activate the body’s macrophages- a specific type of white blood cell that literally ingests and destroys harmful microorganisms. There have been numerous studies on garlic’s benefit to the immune system, and ability to significantly increase the numbers of germ eating macrophages in the bloodstream.

Garlic for cancer prevention

Garlic can also aid in cancer prevention since it has compounds which stop tumor formation as well as inhibiting the spread of tumors. Garlic has been shown to reduce the occurrence of a variety of cancers, including colon, prostate, and stomach cancer.


Even with all these benefits, however, no one wants to reek of garlic.  Eating too much raw garlic can cause stomach upset and may keep people from wanting to stand too close to you. Thankfully, there are odorless garlic supplements available that can impart the benefits of garlic without your neighbors knowing about it. My favorite garlic supplements are the aged garlic supplements by Kyolic. Aging garlic removes its odor while retaining its health benefits; in fact, aged garlic has been shown to be significantly higher in active beneficial compounds than raw garlic. I take Kyolic garlic on a regular basis, and can absolutely attest to it being odor free.