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Viral infections have afflicted human health and despite great advancements in scientific knowledge and technologies, continue to affect our society today. The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a spotlight on the need to review the evidence on the impact of nutritional strategies to maintain a healthy immune system, particularly in instances where there are limited therapeutic treatments. Selenium, an essential trace element in humans, has a long history of lowering the occurrence and severity of viral infections. Much of the benefits derived from selenium are due to its incorporation into selenocysteine, an important component of proteins known as selenoproteins. Viral infections are associated with an increase in reactive oxygen species and may result in oxidative stress. Studies suggest that selenium deficiency alters immune response and viral infection by increasing oxidative stress and the rate of mutations in the viral genome, leading to an increase in pathogenicity and damage to the host. This review examines viral infections, including the novel SARS-CoV-2, in the context of selenium, in order to inform potential nutritional strategies to maintain a healthy immune system.

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