Cold sores can affect anyone. Almost 90% of American adults have the virus that makes cold sore outbreaks a possibility. Most are otherwise extremely healthy. Even if you have the virus, you may only get one or two cold sores in your lifetime. Many times, a trigger for flare-ups can be a lack of proper nutrition or vitamins. So, what are the best vitamins for cold sores?

This article will dive into some of the best vitamins and supplements you can take to keep fever blisters at bay. However, it’s important to understand that nothing can prevent a cold sore completely. Once you have the virus, you are automatically at risk.

Some people take supplements to help treat existing cold sores. While that can work in emergency situations, it’s better to take certain vitamins continuously. That way, you’ll always have a line of defense against outbreaks.

The best thing you can do to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs is to eat a well-balanced diet. Certain foods can help to boost your immune system. A weakened immune system makes it easier for an outbreak to occur. However, if you know you’re not getting the nutrition you need, supplementing it with vitamins is a great way to get stronger.

What Vitamins Can I Take to Prevent Cold Sores?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can take to prevent cold sores completely. However, vitamins that help to improve your immune system can make it harder for the herpes simplex virus to break through. When your immune system is stronger, you’ll likely notice fewer blister flare-ups.

Use the vitamins listed in this article to help prevent severe outbreaks. Keep taking them when you do experience cold sores to help weaken the symptoms and speed up the healing time.

Lysine (L-Lysine)

If you’re prone to getting cold sore outbreaks, you may have used a treatment with lysine in it before to help get rid of a nasty blister. But, lysine can also be taken as a preventative supplement. It is an amino acid that works by inhibiting the absorption of arginine. Arginine is another type of amino acid that is needed for HSV-1 to thrive and spread.

The replication of the virus becomes very difficult when lysine is present. This can significantly shorten the time it takes for a blister to heal fully.

Lysine isn’t produced naturally by the body. So, it’s necessary to ingest it through foods, such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Fish

Or, you can take a lysine supplement. You only need about 1,000mg each day as a cold sore preventative. When you do experience a flare-up, you can raise that dosage to 2,000-3,000mg a day. It will help to get rid of a blister quickly and safely.

If you’re looking for an over-the-counter treatment product that contains lysine, try Basic Organics Lysine Lip Ointment. It contains lysine and other essential vitamins and ingredients designed to soothe the negative symptoms associated with fever blisters.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps to activate and give a boost to your white blood cells. It becomes even more potent when you take vitamin C with bioflavonoids. Combined, it becomes a natural antiviral substance that fights back against the herpes simplex virus causing the cold sore in the first place. White blood cells naturally fight infection, which can help to speed up the healing process.

Many foods contain high amounts of vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Some of the most common are:

  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit

Finally, the combination of vitamin C with bioflavonoids help to fight against stress and fatigue. By taking a supplement each day, you may be able to boost your energy and reduce your stress levels. Since fatigue and stress are both considered ‘triggers’ for cold sores, these specific properties make it a great preventative vitamin.

Vitamin B6

The human body needs vitamin B for overall good health. It is good for your skin, hair, liver, and helps your body to process fats and proteins properly. This is an essential vitamin as it keeps things running smoothly. When you have a vitamin B deficiency, it can lead to infection and make it harder for your body to heal itself.

Additionally, vitamin B6 produces antibodies. These antibodies help to fight back against viruses within the body. Because it helps in fortifying your immune system, it takes care of cold sores from the inside out.

Vitamin B supplements are easy to find at any pharmacy. But, it is also naturally found in many of the foods we eat, including:

  • Bananas
  • Grains
  • Spinach
  • Cheese
  • Cow’s milk

There’s a good chance some of your favorite foods contain this essential vitamin. Try including more of them in your diet, or supplementing your diet with a daily vitamin b6 tablet.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another great immune-booster. It also helps your body to fight away infection, which heals cold sores faster. Enjoy foods that are rich in vitamin A, such as:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Egg yolks
  • Milk
  • Spinach

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps to promote healing in two ways. You can ingest it as a supplement or through food. It protects white blood cells against free radicals and increases cell production. Because of this, it is considered to be an antioxidant. You can get plenty of vitamin E through foods like:

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Spinach

Additionally, you can take a vitamin E capsule and use it externally on a cold sore. Break open a capsule and apply it directly to the blister. The healing properties will penetrate the skin, soften scabbing, and work as a natural treatment option to speed up recovery. It will also help to keep your cold sore from cracking and splitting open.


Zinc is a natural immune booster and helps to speed up the healing time of cold sores. When taken regularly, it can lessen the frequency of your outbreaks. If you already have a cold sore, it can help to reduce the intensity of your symptoms.

Zinc oxide can also be found in topical treatments for cold sores. When applied directly to the blister, it can provide soothing relief from itching and irritation. It will also dry up the sore, causing it to heal faster and fade away quickly. You can find zinc supplements in any store or pharmacy. However, most topical treatments of zinc oxide need to be prescribed by a doctor.

Some common foods that contain zinc include:

  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Beans
  • Egg yolks

Zinc works best when it is used in combination with other essential vitamins, like vitamin C. Some research has suggested that the daily intake of a zinc supplement and vitamin C supplement can reduce the healing time of a cold sore blister to just one day. Zinc is a natural remedy that is safer and costs less than prescription antiviral medications.

What are the best vitamins for cold sores?

What Foods Should I Avoid?

Sometimes, even foods that would otherwise be considered healthy aren’t the best for fighting off cold sores. If you’re prone to flare-ups, you may want to avoid certain foods in your regular diet. Many of these risky foods contain large amounts of arginine. As stated above, arginine is necessary for the growth and spread of the herpes simplex virus. When you feed the virus these foods, it gains strength.

You don’t have to avoid these foods and the nutrients they provide altogether. But, if you get cold sores a lot, you may want to limit them. Avoid eating them if you’re in the middle of a cold sore flare-up. Some of the most popular foods that you should avoid during a cold sore are:

  • Chocolate
  • Gelatin
  • Beer
  • Grain cereals
  • Soda
  • Certain seeds and nuts
  • Peas

As you can see, some of these foods aren’t necessarily unhealthy for you. Some even contain a few of the vitamins listed in this article. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you to reduce outbreaks. If you have a lot of these foods in your diets and regularly get cold sores, you may want to cut back.

Fighting Off Cold Sores with the Right Diet

We tend to think of cold sores as external issues that require an over-the-counter treatment. While topical solutions can be great in soothing symptoms, it’s important to start looking at flare-ups as an internal condition.

If you have the herpes simplex virus, it will live dormant within you most of the time. However, certain things may trigger it, causing an outbreak. It’s better to constantly fight the virus within than wait for an outbreak to occur.

Will you always be able to prevent a flare up from occurring? No. Even with the right precautionary measures, cold sores will sometimes seem to just ‘show up.’ However, looking at your immune system as the best line of defense against them is a good place to start.

The vitamins listed in this article are natural defenders of the immune system. They will help to give it a boost. Additionally, many of them have extra properties that will help to heal cold sores faster, even after they form.

A strong immune system can make existing cold sores far less traumatic. Try to include the foods listed in this article in your diet on a regular basis. If it’s not possible to do that, consider taking a multivitamin that contains these nutrients, or taking individual supplements.

Once you have a cold sore, you can shorten its duration to as little as 72 hours with the FDA-approved Virulite Device.