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Does zinc help fight the coronavirus?

CLAIM: Taking zinc helps your body fight the novel coronavirus.

UNKNOWN. There’s some evidence that zinc helps your body fight a cold, but scientists don’t know if it helps ease COVID-19 symptoms. There is no evidence that taking zinc will keep you from catching COVID-19.

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Not much is known about zinc and coronaviruses.

Studies suggest zinc may slow the ability of viruses to make copies of themselves inside your body. But there has not been enough research specifically on how zinc affects coronaviruses.

  • Scientists have studied zinc’s effect on common colds, most of which are caused by rhinoviruses. There is some evidence that taking zinc lozenges or syrup starting on the first day of a cold can help you get over a cold faster.
  • Some common colds are caused by coronaviruses. No studies have looked specifically at whether zinc helps fight colds caused by coronaviruses.
  • The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not the same type of coronavirus that causes common colds. Studies of SARS-CoV, a coronavirus closely related to the one that causes COVID-19, found that zinc slowed the virus-copying process. But these studies were conducted in cells in a lab, not with people taking zinc as a supplement.
 
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Zinc alone cannot prevent or cure a COVID-19 infection.

Keeping your distance and washing your hands are the best ways to avoid getting COVID-19. If you get sick, zinc will not cure you.

  • If zinc has any effect at all on helping with COVID-19 symptoms, it is small.
  • There is no evidence that zinc or other dietary supplements can “boost” or “supercharge” your immune system to protect you from infections.
  • There are many false claims about COVID-19 cures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating fraudulent products.
 
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Zinc can cause harm if you don’t follow a product’s instructions.

If you take zinc supplements, be sure to follow the directions on the product label.

  • Too much zinc can make you sick. Too much zinc can actually lower your immune response. Zinc can also interact with other supplements, particularly copper, and medicines.
  • It’s best to talk to a health care provider about the supplements and medicines you take.
  • You should never eat or drink zinc-containing products meant for use on the skin, like calamine lotion or diaper rash cream. These products are for your skin only and can cause harm if swallowed.
 
Published on: May 21, 2020