New published review examines the role of key nutrients in supporting the immune system.

“Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections” is the title of the review published last April in the Journal Nutrients. The review highlights a wealth of clinical data, which demonstrates that vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, folate, zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, copper and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA play important and complementary roles in supporting the immune system. It also mentions that, inadequate intake and status of these nutrients are widespread, leading to a decrease in resistance to infections and as a consequence an increase in disease burden.

In particular, the review highlights three main points:

  1. Supplementation with micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids is a safe, effective, and low-cost way to help eliminate nutritional gaps and support optimal immune function, and therefore reduce the risk and consequences of infections. Intakes should follow recommended upper safety limits set by expert authorities. Thus, a multivitamin and mineral supplement that supplies the basic micronutrient requirements (e.g., RDA) for vitamins and minerals might be recommended, in addition to the consumption of a well-balanced diet.
  2. The researchers recommend supplementation above the established RDAs for vitamins C and D. According to the review, recent meta-analyses concluded significant reductions in the risk and impact of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections such as the common cold and pneumonia, with vitamin C supplementation. Furthermore, several recent meta-analyses concluded that vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory tract infections in both children and adults. Based on this, researchers recommend a daily intake of at least 200 mg/day of Vitamin C and 2000 IU of Vitamin D, for healthy individuals.
  3. An adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA supports the resolution of inflammation via the production of anti-inflammatory metabolites of these fatty acids, including in the respiratory tract. An intake of 250 mg EPA + DHA per day is recommended and it is consistent with the global, regional and national expert guidelines


Finally, the review highlights that the above nutrients should be considered additional, safe and cost-effective strategies to support the immune system, and further protect individuals and populations from the severe outcomes of COVID-19. Full review is available from this link.