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Essential Minerals that keeps Immune System Healthy

- 6 min read
written by Shield Connect

Trace elementsare necessary for the proper functioning of the healthy immune system.Nutrition deficiency iscorrelated with reduced immunity and enhanced susceptibility to infections.

Dr. Mrutunity DashTrace elementsare necessary for the proper functioning of the healthy immune system.Nutrition deficiency iscorrelated with reduced immunity and enhanced susceptibility to infections. The complicated interactions of trace elements with the macromolecules activate the effective immune response against the invading viral diseases. Micronutrients such as zinc (Zn), selenium (Se),manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), etc. have immunomodulatory functions.

Trace elements have established to control the crucial cellular processes by binding to molecules on the receptor site of cell membrane or by substituting the structure of membrane to prevent entry of certain molecules into the cell.

Trace elements regulatesenergetic biochemical functions by acting as cofactors for many enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx),RNA polymerase, and also acts as centers for stabilizing structures for many enzymes and receptor proteins like Toll-like receptor-4 and transcription factors like Nf-kB.


  • Zinc is important for both the innate and acquired responses towards viral infection.
  • Its deficiency significantly increases pro-inflammatory cytokines and remodeling of lung tissue is noted, an effect which was partially countered by zinc supplements.
  • zinc insufficiency results in an alteration of cell barrier function in lung epithelial tissues, via up-regulation of IFN-γ, TNF-α and Fas receptor signaling.
  • Due to the immunomodulatory and anti-viral properties of zinc, it has the potential to be a supportive treatment in COVID-19 patients.


  • Essential for protein folding, calcium flux, activation, proliferation, and differentiation of immune cells.
  • Selenium function in the form ofselenoproteins/selenoenzymes like thioredoxin reductase (TxR) and GPx, plays a vital role in redox regulations and antioxidant functions.
  • Low-dose supplementation of Se lowers humoral immunity against respiratory tract infections.


  • Differentiation of cells and cellular growth is regulated by iron.
  • Enzymes that generate peroxide and nitric oxide also have iron as structural component and cofactor.
  • Cytokine production and its mechanism of action required iron for regulation.
  • Phosphorylation requires protein kinase C activation which is an important signaling molecule for immune cell proliferation that requires iron for activation
  • Continued existence and replication of contagious viruses and microorganisms have necessity of iron and other micronutrients.
  • Only optimum concentration is required for the proper functioning of immune system against infectious agents.


  • Certain enzymes like SOD require copper for its regulation and catalytic functions as enzymic antioxidant.
  • Along with Cu, Zn is also necessary for the action of SOD (Cu, Zn-SOD), which can quench ROS.
  • Copper plays a vital role by converting superoxide anions to oxygen and H2O2.
  • Cu is necessary for iron metabolism Copper in both excess and deficient condition alter the immune response.
  • It plays a crucial role in the development, maturation, and proper functioning of immune system.


  • Lithium (Li) exhibits anti-viral effect against coronavirus bronchitis virus.
  • It inhibits replication and cellular entry of coronavirus in Vero cells and suppresses transcription, translation of viral proteins in a dose dependent manner.
  • Lithium possess anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting COX-2 expression, IL-1b, TNF-a and increases the levels of IL-2, and IL-10.


  • Nickel (Ni) is essential for modulation of immune system.
  • Administration of nickel chloride at low dosescan cause immunotoxic effect.
  • Research studies on Ni have shown that it increases spleen B and T cell activities and decreases NK cells activities.


To conclude Trace elements are crucial for activation, development, differentiation and perform several functions of immune cells. Molecular mechanisms of trace elements such as selenium,zinc and copper are relatively elucidated against SARS-CoV-2 infections. Minor trace elements have anti-viral activity on specific viruses such as influenza virus, HSV, HIV and BVDVviruses have been previously demonstrated.Consumption of adequate sources of immune boosting micronutrients, proper time for eating along with positive approaches could be helpful for preventing and managing this COVID-19 pandemic.


  1. Dharmalingam, K., Birdi, A., Tomo, S., Sreenivasulu, K., Charan, J., Yadav, D., Purohit, P. and Sharma, P., 2021. Trace Elements as Immunoregulators in SARS-CoV-2 and Other Viral Infections. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry.
  2. Taheri M, Bahrami A, Habibi P, Nouri F. A review on the serum electrolytes and trace elements role in the pathophysiology of COVID-19. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2020;8:1–7.
  3. Belouzard S, Millet JK, Licitra BN, Whittaker GR. Mechanisms of coronavirus cell entry mediated by the viral spike protein. Viruses. 2012;4(6):1011–33.

picture by Fairweather-Tait,et al. (2015). Minerals and Trace Elements. World review of nutrition and dietetics. 111. 45-52. 10.1159/000362296.

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