Mini-Review on the Roles of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Selenium in the Immune System against COVID-19

Molecules. 2020 Nov 16;25(22):5346. doi: 10.3390/molecules25225346.


Low levels of micronutrients have been associated with adverse clinical outcomes during viral infections. Therefore, to maximize the nutritional defense against infections, a daily allowance of vitamins and trace elements for malnourished patients at risk of or diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be beneficial. Recent studies on COVID-19 patients have shown that vitamin D and selenium deficiencies are evident in patients with acute respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D improves the physical barrier against viruses and stimulates the production of antimicrobial peptides. It may prevent cytokine storms by decreasing the production of inflammatory cytokines. Selenium enhances the function of cytotoxic effector cells. Furthermore, selenium is important for maintaining T cell maturation and functions, as well as for T cell-dependent antibody production. Vitamin C is considered an antiviral agent as it increases immunity. Administration of vitamin C increased the survival rate of COVID-19 patients by attenuating excessive activation of the immune response. Vitamin C increases antiviral cytokines and free radical formation, decreasing viral yield. It also attenuates excessive inflammatory responses and hyperactivation of immune cells. In this mini-review, the roles of vitamin C, vitamin D, and selenium in the immune system are discussed in relation to COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; infectious disease; selenium; virus; vitamin C; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / biosynthesis
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Betacoronavirus / drug effects
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / diet therapy
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / diet therapy
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / immunology
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / virology
  • Cytokines / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / drug effects
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Micronutrients / therapeutic use
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diet therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Selenium / therapeutic use*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / virology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium
  • Ascorbic Acid