Enhancing immunity in viral infections, with special emphasis on COVID-19
Considering the current pandemic of COVID-19 where no effective preventive and curative medicine is available, a healthy immune system is one of the most important weapons . There are several vitamins and trace elements which are essential for the normal functioning of the immune system. Furthermore, supplementation of these have shown positive impact on enhancing immunity in viral infections. Vitamin A and D supplementation has increased the humeral immunity of paediatric patients following influenza vaccination. High dose zinc supplementation has shown immune enhancement in patients with torquetenovirus (TTV). Similarly, selenium supplementation has shown a positive response after an influenza vaccination challenge. In addition to micronutrients, several herbals and probiotics also have shown effectiveness for treatment and prevention of viral infections. Moreover, several nutraceuticals and probiotics have also shown a supportive role in enhancing immune responses.
Malnutrition increases morbidity, mortality, and causes significant economic impact on the health care systems, while the economic situation of a country influences all aspects of optimal nutrition care. The increased risk of morbidity and mortality caused by malnutrition is a result of the increased rate of infections, as well as by delayed recovery. Furthermore, infections increase the demand for several nutrients. It is well-recognized that nutrition is a crucial factor in modulating immune homeostasis. Protein-energy malnutrition or even subclinical deficiencies of one micronutrient may impair one’s immune responses. Recently, Calder et al. has highlighted the importance of optimal nutritional status to protect against viral infections and Wu et al. has provided nutritional advices to reduce damages to the lungs from coronavirus and other lung infections. Acknowledging both these valuable reviews, we used a systematic searching strategy and evaluated the highest quality evidence from clinical trials for both the prevention and treatment of viral diseases by means of nutritional interventions. Priority has been given for supplementation of vitamins, trace-elements, nutraceuticals and probiotics.
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Insights in Nutrition and Metabolism