I’ve written about zinc in the past for viral infections and early on at the start of the pandemic describing its role in mitigating COVID-19 infections. With the recent uptick in cases and how easily it seems to spread in today’s social settings I thought I should do an update. Naively I thought I could write a one paragraph diddy as a Facebook post that would cover what has been learned about zinc for COVID in the last two and a half years. Boy was I wrong! In fairly typical Murray fashion I started to look into the research on zinc related to COVID and went deep down the rabbit hole. To make it easy to sort through what I’ve found I’m going to list bullet points from sources such as Cambridge University, The British Journal of Nutrition, The Journal of Biochemistry and the journal Immunology.
- Zinc deficiencies are common in people with compromised immune systems.
- Zinc deficiencies are associated with overexuberent inflammatory responses such as with the cytokine storm seen in COVID infections affecting the lungs.
- Zinc deficiency reduces antibody production.
- Most of the risk groups described for COVID-19 are the same groups associated with zinc deficiencies.
- Zinc is essential in preserving the natural tissue barriers in the lungs and respiratory tract.
- Zinc interferes with a virus’ ability to replicate.
- Zinc interferes with a virus’ ability to attach to and enter our cells.
- Increased zinc levels improved tolerance of lungs towards damage induced by mechanical ventilation.
- Zinc destabilizes the virus’ outer membrane.
There is relatively little research done to date on zinc and COVID-19 but more is coming every day and to date, most is favorable. You can overdo zinc and I don’t think you should take any more than the RDA daily with some exceptions: When you are feeling off, have been exposed to someone with COVID, or have a confirmed case, taking extra zinc makes sense. Should you take too much zinc it can interfere with copper and have adverse consequences. But it would be really unlikely that taking extra for a few days to a few weeks would be an issue. Taking the extra zinc in by lozenges seems the best. By coating your upper respiratory tract with a little zinc it can improve the cellular barrier against infection and boost your immune system's ability to respond to the virus. Hope this helps. Be sure to ask Dr. Manley or me about zinc if you have more questions.