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Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections

1
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton and NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16-6YD, UK
2
Nutrition in Medicine Research Group, Department of Pathology & Biomedical Science, University of Otago, Christchurch, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
3
Linus Pauling Institute, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Oregon State University, 307 Linus Pauling Science Center, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
4
Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, 9713 GZ Groningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2020, 12(4), 1181; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041181
Received: 10 March 2020 / Revised: 14 April 2020 / Accepted: 18 April 2020 / Published: 23 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Nutritional Immunology)
Public health practices including handwashing and vaccinations help reduce the spread and impact of infections. Nevertheless, the global burden of infection is high, and additional measures are necessary. Acute respiratory tract infections, for example, were responsible for approximately 2.38 million deaths worldwide in 2016. The role nutrition plays in supporting the immune system is well-established. A wealth of mechanistic and clinical data show that vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate; trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper; and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid play important and complementary roles in supporting the immune system. 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. Against this background the following conclusions are made: (1) supplementation with the above micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids is a safe, effective, and low-cost strategy to help support optimal immune function; (2) supplementation above the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), but within recommended upper safety limits, for specific nutrients such as vitamins C and D is warranted; and (3) public health officials are encouraged to include nutritional strategies in their recommendations to improve public health. View Full-Text
Keywords: immune system; viral infection; influenza; COVID-19; micronutrients; vitamins; omega-3 fatty acids; minerals; vitamin C; vitamin D immune system; viral infection; influenza; COVID-19; micronutrients; vitamins; omega-3 fatty acids; minerals; vitamin C; vitamin D
MDPI and ACS Style

Calder, P.C.; Carr, A.C.; Gombart, A.F.; Eggersdorfer, M. Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect against Viral Infections. Nutrients 2020, 12, 1181.

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