Selenium Supplementation Strengthens Immune Response to Covid-19

The available vaccines do not seem up to the task of preventing infection by the fourth wave of the Covid-19 virus. Accordingly, people in high-risk groups may want to start on a course of supplementation to address possible deficiencies of selenium, zinc, and vitamin D to strengthen their immune response [Alexander 2020].

Covid-19 vaccine
Resistance to Covid-19 and other viral infections, strengthening of immune system function, and reducing chronic inflammation all depend on adequate intakes of zinc, selenium, and vitamin D [Alexander 2020].
In this article, we will address the importance of adequate selenium intakes. Readers are encouraged to google zinc and Covid-19 and vitamin D and Covid-19 on their own.

Early initiation of adequate selenium, zinc, and vitamin D supplementation in high-risk individuals and in high-risk areas and, certainly, as soon as possible after the time of suspected infection with the Covid-19 virus can help the immune system [Alexander 2020].

Selenium Deficiency and Vulnerability to Viral Infections

Deficiencies of zinc, selenium, and vitamin D frequently occur in elderly individuals and in individuals with disease conditions. These deficiencies make individuals vulnerable to viral infections, and viral infections lead to the development of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease, which are characterized by oxidative stress [Guillin 2020]. A common characteristic in these diseases is the presence of chronic inflammation [Alexander 2020].

Purpose of Supplementation with Selenium

Adequate intakes of zinc, selenium, and vitamin D are essential [Alexander 2020]:

  1. to ensure the initiation of good immune system responses
  2. to regulate and counteract excessive inflammatory responses

Viral infections both increase the need for micronutrients and cause the reduction in the levels of micronutrients. This situation results in a deficiency that can be compensated by micronutrient supplementation. Selenium with its important role in antioxidant defense, redox signaling, and redox homeostasis is one of the micronutrients needed in viral infections [Guillin 2020].

A good diet alone may not be sufficient to secure adequate intakes of these micronutrients. This seems to be especially true for elderly individuals and especially true for individuals who live in selenium-poor regions [Alexander 2020].

Selenium as a Preventive Approach to covid-19

The thing about selenium deficiency – defined variously as a serum selenium concentration below 60 mcg/L or below 70 mcg/L – is that selenium deficiency has a double harmful effect:

  • The selenium deficiency reduces the effectiveness of the immune response to a virus.
  • The selenium deficiency in the host individual can lead to the invading virus’ becoming more virulent than it would be in a selenium-replete individual.
Selenium Level and Cure-Rate and Death-Rate in Covid-19

In a study done in China, researchers found that Covid-19 cure-rates were higher and Covid-19 death-rates were lower in areas in which the population had higher selenium concentrations as measured in hair [Zhang 2021].

In a different study done in Germany, researchers found that the selenium status was significantly higher in samples from surviving Covid-19 patients as compared with non-survivors. They reported that patients suffering from Covid-19 displayed a deficiency of both selenium and the selenium transporter Selenoprotein P in the blood as well as low activity of the antioxidant selenoprotein glutathione peroxidase-3 [Moghaddam 2020].

Selenium Combined with Other Supplements

The optimal function of the antioxidant selenoproteins, the glutathione peroxidases, depends upon adequate supply of polypeptide glutathione. Supplementation with the prescription drug N-acetylcysteine will supply glutathione to the cells. N-acetylcysteine is already being used to treat obstructive bronchitis and has been shown to be beneficial in cases of
severe influenza infection and in cases of Covid-19 pneumonia [Alexander 2020].

Coenzyme Q10

Researchers in Sweden gave healthy elderly individuals who were low in selenium (mean serum selenium concentration: 67.1 mcg/L) daily selenium supplements together with Coenzyme Q10 supplements. The combined selenium and Coenzyme Q10 treatment was associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality [Alehagen 2018], reduced plasma bio-markers of inflammation [Alehagen 2015a, Alehagen 2019] and oxidative stress [Alehagen 2015b], and improved health-related quality of life [Johansson 2015].

Conclusion: Selenium and Micronutrients To strengthen immune response Against Covid-19

It seems a reasonable hypothesis that taking zinc, selenium, and vitamin D supplements can help to prevent Covid-19 infection and can mitigate the Covid-19 severity early on in the infection.

Adequate intakes of these important micronutrients by vulnerable individuals before the infection escalates could well have immuno-enhancing effects and anti-inflammatory effects prior to the onset of the deadly cytokine release syndrome [Alexander 2020].

Supplementation with zinc, selenium, and vitamin D, all three, would be inexpensive, safe, and well-tolerated [Alexander 2020].


Alehagen U, Lindahl TL, Aaseth J, Svensson E. Levels of sP-selectin and hs-CRP decrease with dietary intervention with selenium and coenzyme Q10 combined: a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. PLoS One. 2015a;10:e0137680.

Alehagen U, Aaseth J, Johansson P. Less increase of copeptin and MR-proADM due to intervention with selenium and coenzyme Q10 combined: Results from a 4-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among elderly Swedish citizens. Biofactors. 2015b;41:443-52.

Alehagen U, Aaseth J, Alexander J, Johansson P. Still reduced cardiovascular mortality 12 years after supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 for four years: A validation of previous 10-year follow-up results of a prospective randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0193120 .

Alehagen U, Alexander J, Aaseth J, Larsson A. Decrease in inflammatory biomarker concentration by intervention with selenium and coenzyme Q10: a subanalysis of osteopontin, osteoprotergerin, TNFr1, TNFr2 and TWEAK. J Inflamm (Lond). 2019;16:5.

Alexander J, Tinkov A, Strand TA, Alehagen U, Skalny A, Aaseth J. Early nutritional interventions with zinc, selenium and vitamin d for raising anti-viral resistance against progressive COVID-19. Nutrients. 2020;12(8):2358.

Guillin OM, Vindry C, Ohlmann T, Chavatte L. Selenium, Selenoproteins and Viral Infection. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 4;11(9):2101.

Johansson P, Dahlstrom O, Dahlstrom U, Alehagen U. Improved health-related quality of life, and more days out of hospital with supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 combined. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015;19:870-7.

Moghaddam A, Heller RA, Sun Q, Seelig J, Cherkezov A, Seibert L, Hackler J, Seemann P, Diegmann J, Pilz M, Bachmann M, Minich WB, Schomburg L. Selenium Deficiency Is Associated with Mortality Risk from COVID-19. Nutrients. 2020 Jul 16;12(7):2098.

Zhang J, Taylor EW, Bennett K, Saad R, Rayman MP. Association between regional selenium status and reported outcome of COVID-19 cases in China. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020;111(6):1297-1299.

The information presented in this review article is not intended as medical advice and should not be used as such.

15 January 2022

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