Micronutrients and bioactive substances: Their potential roles in combating COVID-19

Nutrition. 2021 Apr;84:111103. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2020.111103. Epub 2020 Dec 4.


Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is seriously threatening public health and setting off huge economic crises across the world. In the absence of specific drugs for COVID-19, there is an urgent need to look for alternative approaches. Therefore, the aim of this paper was to review the roles of micronutrients and bioactive substances as potential alternative approaches in combating COVID-19.

Methods: This review was based on the literature identified using electronic searches in different databases.

Results: Vitamins (A, B, C, D, and E), minerals (selenium and zinc), and bioactive substances from curcumin, echinacea, propolis, garlic, soybean, green tea, and other polyphenols were identified as having potential roles in interfering with spike glycoproteins, angiotensin converting enzyme 2, and transmembrane protease serine 2 at the entry site, and inhibiting activities of papain-like protease, 3 chymotrypsin-like protease, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase in the replication cycle of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Having immunomodulating, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties, such micronutrients and bioactive substances are consequently promising alterative nutritional approaches to combat COVID-19.

Conclusions: The roles of micronutrients and bioactive substances in the fight against COVID-19 are exciting areas of research. This review may suggest directions for further study.

Keywords: Bioactive substances; COVID-19; Cytokine storms; Lung injury; Micronutrients; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / virology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients / pharmacology*
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Micronutrients
  • Phytochemicals