Immune-boosting role of vitamins D, C, E, zinc, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids: Could they help against COVID-19?

Maturitas. 2021 Jan;143:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.08.003. Epub 2020 Aug 9.


The world is currently in the grips of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has mutated to allow human-to-human spread. Infection can cause fever, dry cough, fatigue, severe pneumonia, respiratory distress syndrome and in some instances death. COVID-19 affects the immune system by producing a systemic inflammatory response, or cytokine release syndrome. Patients with COVID-19 have shown a high level of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. There are currently no effective anti-SARS-CoV-2 viral drugs or vaccines. COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly, both directly, and through a number of significant age-related comorbidities. Undoubtedly, nutrition is a key determinant of maintaining good health. Key dietary components such as vitamins C, D, E, zinc, selenium and the omega 3 fatty acids have well-established immunomodulatory effects, with benefits in infectious disease. Some of these nutrients have also been shown to have a potential role in the management of COVID-19. In this paper, evidence surrounding the role of these dietary components in immunity as well as their specific effect in COVID-19 patients are discussed. In addition, how supplementation of these nutrients may be used as therapeutic modalities potentially to decrease the morbidity and mortality rates of patients with COVID-19 is discussed.

Keywords: COVID-19; Immunomodulation; Omega-3; Pandemic; SARS-CoV-2; Selenium; Vitamin C; Vitamin D; Vitamin E; Zinc.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / immunology
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / immunology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Selenium / immunology
  • Selenium / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D / immunology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin E / immunology
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / immunology
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*
  • Zinc / immunology
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Ascorbic Acid