COVID-19 and Selenium Deficiency: a Systematic Review

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2022 Sep;200(9):3945-3956. doi: 10.1007/s12011-021-02997-4. Epub 2021 Nov 5.


Several studies have indicated that selenium deficiency may be detrimental in the context of various viral disorders, and in the case of COVID-19, several studies have reported heterogeneous results concerning the association of selenium deficiency with the severity of disease. To summarize the available data surrounding the association of body selenium levels with the outcomes of COVID-19, a systematic search was performed in the Medline database (PubMed), Scopus, Cochrane Library, Embase, and Web of Science using keywords including "SARS-CoV-2," "COVID-19," and "selenium," Studies evaluating the association of COVID-19 with body selenium levels were included. Among 1,862 articles viewed in the database search, 10 articles were included after title, abstract, and full-text review. One study was further included after searching the literature again for any newly published articles. Out of 11 included studies, 10 studies measured serum selenium level, and one study investigated urinary selenium level. Three of 10 studies measured serum SELENOP level as well as selenium level. Glutathione peroxidase-3 level in serum was also assessed in one study. The reported outcomes were severity, mortality, and risk of COVID-19. Nine studies indicated that a lower serum selenium level is associated with worse outcomes. Two studies reported no significant association between serum selenium level and COVID-19. In one study, urinary selenium level was reported to be higher in severe and fatal cases compared to non-severe and recovered patients, respectively. In most cases, selenium deficiency was associated with worse outcomes, and selenium levels in COVID-19 patients were lower than in healthy individuals. Thus, it could be concluded that cautious selenium supplementation in COVID-19 patients may be helpful to prevent disease progression. However, randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm this.

Keywords: COVID-19; Micronutrients; Oxidative stress; SARS-CoV-2; Selenium; Trace elements.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Selenium* / deficiency
  • Selenoprotein P


  • Selenoprotein P
  • Selenium