Does Zinc protect you from COVID-19 or boost immune system?

Aug - 2020

Zinc is an essential mineral that our body cannot make itself, which means we have to obtain it from our diet or through supplements.

There have been hundreds of studies investigating zinc for the common cold. The theory is that zinc could inhibit the binding of the cold virus to cells within the nasal mucosa and suppress inflammation. Although there have been conflicting results, overall, zinc appears to be beneficial in certain forms or circumstances.

As COVID-19 is a new disease, there aren’t any specific studies of zinc for COVID-19, and we can only look at its effects in similar conditions.

  • A Cochrane review of 18 studies found zinc lozenges (at least 75mg/day) administered within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms reduced the duration of cold symptoms in healthy people.
  • Zinc gluconate (13.3mg) reduced the symptoms of a common cold by more than three days in 100 employees in Cleveland
  • Zinc was shown to inhibit the activity and replication of another coronavirus (SARS-CoV which caused an outbreak in 2002) in the laboratory.
  • A laboratory study in 2010 showed that zinc inhibited the activity and replication of another coronavirus, SARS-CoV which caused an outbreak in 2002

Who is at risk of zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency in North America is uncommon. The following factors increase the risk of zinc deficiency:

  • Age over 60 years
  • Alcoholics
  • Breastfeeding women
  • Cancer
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Chronic liver or kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal surgery
  • Infants older than 7 months who are exclusively breastfed
  • Inflammatory bowel disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Malabsorption syndrome
  • Pregnant women with a marginal zinc status to begin with
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Other chronic illnesses.

Quick Fact:

Vegetarians are at higher risk of zinc deficiency because they do not eat meat or seafood. They may require up to 50% more of the RDA to account for reduced zinc absorption because of the presence of phytates.

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