Natural Antivirals Part 3: Vitamins and Minerals with Proven Anti-Viral Activity

Natural Antivirals Part 3: Vitamins and Minerals with Proven Anti-Viral Activity

Vitamin C, vitamin D. vitamin A and the minerals selenium, zinc and iodine have all been shown to have antiviral activity.

Although no vitamin or mineral has been studied against the virus causing CoVID19 infection, there is abundant scientific evidence for various anti-viral effects of many substances. Every hyperlink in the article takes you to a supporting scientific article.


Vitamin C has been found to be an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses to influenza A virus (H2N2) infections.

Vitamin C has been shown to have activity against influenza A (H1N1) and against HIV.

Vitamin C is used routinely as an effective topical treatment of herpes simplex virus that infects the eye. Subsequent vitamin C by mouth has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrence of the eye infection.

Vitamin C inhibits the growth of cytomegalovirus and Epstein Barr Virus infections, which are two causes of an infectious mono-like illness. It seems to work by hindering viral infection and replication.

Vitamin C can assist the body to clear chronic parvovirus B19 infection, a common cause of a viral rash in children.

Vitamin C inactivates a group of viruses that are spread through the gut, such as poliovirus type 1, coxsackievirus type A9, and echovirus type 7.

Vitamin C supports the barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental stresses. Some researcher supports that intake of 100–200 mg/day can optimize cell and tissue levels in most people.


Vitamin D is involved in many antiviral responses of the human immune system.

No matter what cutoff value is used, lower levels of vitamin D are found among people who get respiratory illnesses. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown in many studies to reduce seasonal influenza A infections in children, and the lower rate of upper respiratory infection and influenza in adults.

Low levels of vitamin D are associated with more viral respiratory tract infections, but studies are mixed on whether vitamin D supplementation is helpful. Several studies have shown vitamin D supplementation significantly reduces the risk of acute respiratory infections in the winter among children with vitamin D deficiency. Most of these infections are presumed to be viral.

One study looked at the effect of 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily given to elderly persons who were at high risk of respiratory infection.  It reduced overall rates of infections and the number of days on antibiotics by 50%.

Other indirect evidence of vitamin D’s role in fighting viral infections comes from the research on persons with viral hepatitis B infection. Low vitamin D levels are found in people with chronic hepatitis B infection, and the low D levels are associated with higher viral loads.

More evidence comes from treatment of HIV infection. When vitamin D is added to the antiviral drug regimen, there is a significantly improved response to the drugs.


Vitamin A is involved in the development of the immune system and regulates the immune processes.

Vitamin A has been found to reduce illness in several viral diseases, including infectious diarrhea, mumps, and hand-foot-mouth disease. Vitamin A is also shown to help the effectiveness of antiviral drugs for HIV.

Vitamin A reduces illness and death from measles, which is caused by the rubeola virus.

Vitamin A treats the symptoms of viral pneumonia, and modulates the antiviral response of the gut in norovirus infection, a cause of highly contagious viral diarrhea.


Iodine has been used in hand washes or on skin or as disinfectants for contaminated surfaces for 100 years.

Forty years ago it was demonstrated that dilute solutions (1%) of iodine in ethyl alcohol or in water are effective in causing inactivation of rhinovirus when applied immediately after viral contamination. Iodine also has a residual virus-killing activity, which persisted on the hands for up to 1 hour.

Copper iodine particles have antiviral activity against an influenza A virus (H1N1).

Topical iodine treats adenovirus infection of the eye.

One recent study demonstrated that povidone iodine as a mouthwash rapidly inactivates SARS-Coronavirus, MERS –coronavirus, in influenza A virus (H1N1} after only 15 seconds of exposure. It was used as a highly dilute solution at 1:30 – the equivalent of 0.23% concentration of povidone iodine. It is not meant to be swallowed.

Povidone iodine blockades the attachment of the viruses to cell receptors, and inhibits the virus from being released from infected cells.

Povidone iodine hand wash also kills Ebola virus.

One article concluded: “These data indicate that PVP-I-based [iodine] hand wash products for potentially contaminated skin, and PVP-I gargle/mouthwash for reduction of viral load in the mouth and throat, may help to support hygiene measures to prevent transmission of MERS-CoV.”


Selenium gets incorporates into proteins that are vital to fighting viruses.

Selenium deficiency has been shown to make virus infections more likely to cause illness.

This has been shown most conclusively with Influenza A virus. Those with selenium deficiency have more severe illness and worse inflammation.

Selenium supplements come in many different dosages and formulations, and studies have shown these factors can influence weather selenium supplementation is beneficial or not for the immune system.

For now, it is safest to add selenium-rich foods to the diet, such as Brazil nuts, cashews, brown rice, oatmeal, lentils, baked beans, beef, pork, fish, poultry and dairy products.


Multiple studies have documented the effectiveness of zinc in preventing and shorten the duration of the common cold with demonstrated activity in the lab against rhinoviruses.

Zinc supplementation for prevention of the common cold in children reduces the incidence of the common cold, school absenteeism, and use of antibiotics.

One study showed  study showed that zinc supplementation (45 mg/d elemental zinc) in the elderly subjects decreased the incidence of infection by nearly 66%.

Zinc impairs the ability of the cell to support replication of the respiratory syncytial virus, and inhibits the ability of Hepatitis E virus to replicate.

There is much more to know about antiviral vitamins and minerals, but this is a start on the better-researched substances.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only, and offers no treatment recommendations or advice. Consult your trusted health care practitioner for precautions, drug interactions, and contraindications.

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