Zinc is the second-most abundant trace mineral found in the body, and it affects all organs and cells. The body doesn’t make zinc, but most Americans get plenty in our diets by eating foods, like beans, nuts, whole grains, red meat, poultry and dairy.

While there’s no evidence that zinc can prevent or cure COVID-19, zinc can help the body fight infections by supporting the immune system function. The immune system is the body’s first line of defense when it comes to fighting infections, and experts have held that a strong immune system is crucial to fighting COVID-19. Zinc deficiencies can lead to depressed immune responses, which makes it harder for the body to fight any infection. Healthy zinc levels may help protect against the worst of the virus.

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, it’s worth investigating the role of zinc in your wellness routine.

Does zinc protect against COVID-19?

There is not enough evidence to show that zinc can prevent or treat COVID-19. However, studies have shown that blood zinc levels could play a role in determining the severity of symptoms and in predicting the outcome of an infection.

While zinc may not prevent a COVID-19 infection, healthy zinc levels could help you avoid the worst of the symptoms. Zinc is believed to support the immune system and has a proven antiviral effect against some viruses. It is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help protect the cells.

Those suffering from common colds often take zinc lozenges to help lessen the duration and symptoms of the illness[1]. Common colds are often caused by coronaviruses, the same family of viruses responsible for SARS-CoV-2.

A recent study[2], which is not yet peer reviewed, showed evidence that zinc levels may predict the outcome of a COVID-19 infection. Patients with COVID-19 who showed a zinc deficiency when they were admitted to the hospital fared worse than those with healthy zinc levels. Lower zinc blood levels correlated to higher mortality rates.

Clinical trials must be done before there is evidence that a patient could receive zinc as a viable treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.

How much zinc should I take?

How much zinc you should take depends on your personal zinc levels. A few groups of people tend to be vulnerable to zinc deficiencies, including the elderly and individuals with chronic illnesses. People in these groups are already at a heightened risk from COVID-19.

If you are not zinc deficient, there is no evidence that taking zinc supplements will provide any additional protection. In fact, too much zinc can be harmful and result in lowered immunity, among other side effects, over time.

Using zinc supplementation above the daily recommended limits is not advised. The recommended daily allowance for elemental zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for nonpregnant women. Zinc deficiency is uncommon in North America, so be sure to consult with a health care provider before adding supplements into your routine.

Can I take any vitamins or supplements to prevent COVID-19?

Like zinc, there is not enough evidence to claim that other vitamins or supplements can prevent or cure COVID-19. However, studies have shown that certain vitamins and supplements can help support your immune system and reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin B might be especially useful.

Vitamins and supplements shouldn’t replace wearing masks and social distancing for COVID-19 prevention, but they may still be worthwhile additions to a wellness routine and could be beneficial once the public health crisis passes.

A key takeaway: try to make sure you’re eating a nutritious diet and consider incorporating nutrient supplements into your health care routine if you are concerned about nutrient levels.

To add a zinc supplement to your routine, visit our zinc supplements page to find a solution from proven, trusted brands. There, you will find lots of options to find the right zinc supplement for your needs.

Sources:

[1] Hemilä H;Petrus EJ;Fitzgerald JT;Prasad A; “Zinc Acetate Lozenges for Treating the Common Cold: an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis,” British journal of clinical pharmacology (U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 28, 2016), https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27378206/.

[2]Marina Vogel-González et al., “Low Zinc Levels at Clinical Admission Associates with Poor Outcomes in COVID-19,” January 1, 2020, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.07.20208645v1.