Zinc and Coronavirus

Dr. Amir Petrus Dawood

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, many people are buying as many supplies as possible to last them through a quarantine. You’ve probably already heard of the toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, but if you take a trip to your local drugstore you may see an unusual product missing: zinc supplements.

People are flocking to zinc supplements because of an email that virologist and pathologist James Robb wrote to family and friends in late February advising them on common-sense ways to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus.

The role of zinc in your body

Zinc is a nutrient that helps your immune system fight off infection and is important in infant and childhood development.

The National Institutes of Health names oysters as the best source of zinc, and you can also get it from red meat, beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy.

Signs of zinc deficiency include hair loss, diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, poor wound healing.

It is important to not get too far ahead when applying these findings to the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, which is part of the coronavirus family. While common colds can be a result of a coronavirus, they’re usually caused by a rhinovirus. they are a family of viruses that are associated with upper respiratory tract infections.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean that zinc is effective against COVID-19 -- in fact, no studies have been performed testing a link between the two.

it is possible that zinc could mess with the RNA replication of the novel coronavirus in the same way. The bottom line is that we just don’t know yet.

Taking too much zinc

For adults, the upper limit of zinc in oral supplements is 40mg per day, and for children it is 4mg per day. so, you should be careful not to take more than two or three per day.

Large amounts of zinc are toxic and may cause copper deficiency, anemia, and damage to the nervous system. The Mayo Clinic advises people to avoid zinc nasal sprays, because many people suffer a loss of smell after using them.

If you really want to protect yourself from COVID-19, it’s best to follow the measures already set in place by the WHO and CDC. These include social distancing, washing your hands frequently and not touching your face.

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