Covid-19 Update: Zinc Important for Immune Function

Hello friends:

As the research continues to pile up, here is some great news about zinc and immune health as it relates to SARS-CoV-2 infections. The authors state (1):

  • Patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) had significantly low zinc levels in comparison to healthy controls.
  • Zinc deficient patients developed more complications (70.4% vs 30.0%,p = 0.009).
  • Zinc deficient COVID-19 patients had a prolonged hospital stay (7.9 vs 5.7 days,p = 0.048).
  • In vitro studies have shown that reduced zinc levels favor the interaction of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein and likewise that increased zinc levels inhibit ACE2 expression resulting in reduced viral interaction.

Bottom Line: Make sure you are taking some zinc. In my experience, if you are low in zinc it can take quite a while to get your levels up and it takes persistent supplementation to keep them where they need to be. Usually, 20 mg. of zinc glycinate once a day will do the trick, and if you are like most of us right now, due to the stress and need to optimize our immune function, you can take up to 20 mg. three times a day. A few people get a slight stomach upset when taking zinc, and this is usually a sign of low stomach acid. If that occurs, try to sip a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and see if that eases things. Because the long term (more than 4 months) use of zinc can deplete copper, it is not wise to take high dosages of zinc without making sure that you consider your copper status. To avoid this issue, I take a multi-mineral supplement that has both zinc and copper.

Reference number 2 below is a fact sheet on zinc, and you will notice that the largest amount that this fact sheet recommends is only 12 to 13 mg., and that this is the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for pregnancy related health. The RDA is the amount needed to avoid an outright deficiency in otherwise healthy people. The RDA is not meant to be interpreted as the amount needed for optimal health and function, just the amount needed to stave off signs of deficiency. Therefore, if you are stressed, not eating clean, not sleeping well, have any co-morbid condition(s), not exercising, have any digestive issues resulting in poor absorption (this is very common), have been sick with any type of infection, take antacids, take prescription medications that lower zinc status, have any chronic health condition, allergies, and autoimmunity then it is important to supplement to achieve optimal functional status beyond the RDA. Also note that lab tests are not very accurate for evaluating your zinc status.

The last reference (3) outlines the following to highlight how significant zinc supplementation can be:

“Zinc deficiency leads to cell-mediated immune dysfunctions among other manifestations. Consequently, such dysfunctions lead to a worse outcome in the response towards bacterial infection and sepsis.”





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