By Kennedy Shelley
People and governments are fretting and preparing for the coronavirus.
Much of the advice is prudent, especially when it comes to hand washing, but what about your well-meaning friends who are pushing certain supplements?
One supplement many of us hear about is zinc.
There were some studies that showed that increased zinc may provide some protection against the common cold or lessen the severity of the virus if already infected.
But could it provide protection against the coronavirus?
Please note, there is absolutely no study to show that zinc prevents a cold.
There is one study that shows it reduces the duration of a cold by one day, and many others that were inconclusive on shortening the duration.
Four years ago, the Cochran Collaboration did a very detailed analysis of the 13 studies that tested zinc and the common cold.
They found the studies show that IF you take zinc as soon as you come down with a cold, you get one day of relief.
That’s about as good as it gets.
The other problem is that there is no dose recommended in the report.
The Food and Drug Administration says that most people can safely tolerate 40 mg a day, but more such as two Cold Eeze puts you over that limit.
And remember that the common cold is a rhinovirus, and COVID-19 is a coronavirus.
While they are similar that does not make them the same and while some antiviral drugs work for the flu, they do not work on the common cold.
In short, a cure for one doesn’t mean a cure for the other.
ARE THERE DANGERS TO ZINC?
The first question is, are you deficient?
In most of the developed world, the answer is no. If you eat meat or fortified grain, you get plenty of zinc.
Vegans even get enough from plant sources because zinc is plentiful in nature and there are no reports of it being depleted from the soil, unlike some minerals.
Too much zinc can lead to problems by lowering the trace amounts of copper in the blood which leads to anemia and poor iron absorption.
It also turns out that zinc and iron compete for absorption in the intestines, so taking both supplements at once can block the absorption of one or the other. This effect is only seen in supplementation and not in food which naturally balances both metals.
People who have used the zinc nasal spray have permanently lost their sense of smell. On June 6, 2009, the FDA ordered that Zicam nasal spray containing zinc be removed from sale for this very reason.
Then there is nausea.
People who take zinc lozenges often notice an icky taste in their mouth and they can’t taste anything. That’s the net effect on the mouth.
But often times it makes many people nauseous and causes serious gastric and intestinal upset (in other words people are running to the bathroom).
IS THERE AN UPSIDE?
As far as the coronavirus is concerned, there is nothing to suggest it works.
It probably will make you feel worse if you take too much because your stomach will be upset and if you get it in a nasal spray you can lose your sense of smell.
If you get the flu, a cold or the coronavirus, your best bet is rest and bone broth.