Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses including influenza and coronavirus.

Progress in cardiovascular diseases. 2020;63(3):383-385

Plain language summary

This highly technical review paper summarises some known actions and mechanisms by which certain nutraceuticals can boost the type 1 interferon response, a specific immune response to viruses, including influenza and coronavirus. These include: Ferulate (ferulic acid) has been shown to stimulate type 1 interferon production, and enhanced survival in influenza A-infected mice. Sulforaphane (phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli) and lipoic acid have similar actions. Spirulina extract has been found to decrease mortality in influenza-infected mice. Clinical and preclinical evidence for the potential benefits of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a precursor for the important antioxidant glutathione, and selenium are also discussed. A glucosamine-enriched diet increased survival of mice infected with influenza virus. The authors present a table with suggested dosages for the above nutrients, as well as yeast beta-glucans, zinc and elderberry extracts, for viral control, whilst calling for more research into these compounds.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Influenza/nutraceuticals
Environmental Inputs : Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Nutraceuticals ; Viral infection ; RNA viruses ; Influenza ; Coronavirus