Obesity, malnutrition, and trace element deficiency in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic: An overview

Nutrition. 2021 Jan:81:111016. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2020.111016. Epub 2020 Sep 8.


The world is currently facing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic which places great pressure on health care systems and workers, often presents with severe clinical features, and sometimes requires admission into intensive care units. Derangements in nutritional status, both for obesity and malnutrition, are relevant for the clinical outcome in acute illness. Systemic inflammation, immune system impairment, sarcopenia, and preexisting associated conditions, such as respiratory, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases related to obesity, could act as crucial factors linking nutritional status and the course and outcome of COVID-19. Nevertheless, vitamins and trace elements play an essential role in modulating immune response and inflammatory status. Overall, evaluation of the patient's nutritional status is not negligible for its implications on susceptibility, course, severity, and responsiveness to therapies, in order to perform a tailored nutritional intervention as an integral part of the treatment of patients with COVID-19. The aim of this study was to review the current data on the relevance of nutritional status, including trace elements and vitamin status, in influencing the course and outcome of the disease 3 mo after the World Health Organization's declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; Nutritional status; Sarcopenia; Trace elements; Vitamins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / immunology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Malnutrition / complications*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Pandemics
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / immunology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / physiopathology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Sarcopenia / complications
  • Trace Elements / deficiency*
  • Virus Replication


  • Trace Elements