The One Supplement That Could Save You From the Coronavirus
New research indicates that this supplement could be part of a key combination to help fight COVID-19.
As medical experts race to find a way to fight the deadly COVID-19 contagion, they're looking to tried-and-true prescription medications, traditional treatments, and some additional supplements that could do the trick. You might have read that vitamin D can help you stave off the coronavirus, but according to new research out of New York University, the addition of another supplement could make all the difference if you do come down with the coronavirus: zinc.
Philip M. Carlucci, a medical student at New York University Grossman School of Medicine, and his colleagues looked at the records of 932 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital from Mar. 2 to Apr. 5. They compared outcomes for the 411 patients who received the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin plus zinc versus the 521 patients who received just hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin alone.
In the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, Carlucci and his team found that the addition of zinc increased the frequency of patients being discharged. It also reduced the need for ventilation, reduced admission to the ICU, and reduced mortality or transfer to hospice. "This study provides the first in vivo evidence that zinc sulfate in combination with hydroxychloroquine may play a role in therapeutic management for COVID-19," the authors wrote.
An April study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses out of Germany found similar results. "The safety, tolerability, and efficacy of a combination of [chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine] with zinc, possibly in triple combination with an antibiotic like azithromycin, still represents an additional option to win today's battle against COVID-19," the German researchers wrote.
Zinc has long been touted as a supplement that can help fight colds and upper respiratory infections. And for months, it's been discussed among many in the medical community in regards to COVID-19. Ian Tullberg, MD, medical director of UCHealth Medical Group Urgent Care, previously said, "There's good evidence that oral zinc works well. The problem is that this is still so early that we don't have the knowledge if it works or not. However, zinc is something that will not hurt you, and there may be some benefit."
Similarly, a viral email that pathologist and molecular virologist James A. Robb, MD, sent to friends and family read: "Stock up now with zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx."
As for how much zinc to take exactly? Well, a 2013 Cochrane review looked at randomized controlled trials involving nearly 1,800 participants across all age groups. They found that taking at least 75 milligrams of zinc within 24 hours of your first cold symptoms can shorten the average duration of the common cold. (That's almost twice as much as the 40 milligrams of zinc that the National Institutes of Health consider to be the upper limit dosage for adults.) Of course, time will tell if the same quantities of zinc can help those with the coronavirus. And for more on possible COVID-19 treatments, check out Everything You Need to Know About the New Coronavirus Treatment.