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Lack of This Nutrient May Increase Your Chance of COVID Death

A new study links low zinc levels with increased mortality rate amongst coronavirus patients

Nearly nine months have passed since the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Wuhan, China, and researchers are still struggling to understand the complicated virus. One of the questions still unanswered is why certain people are more prone to death than others when infected with coronavirus. And, according to a new study, it could have something to do with the amount of zinc in their bloodstream. 

Zinc, a popular supplement during cold and flu season, is known for having antiviral properties. While it can help ward off the common cold, researchers wanted to know if it had the same immunity-protecting powers when the system was infected with coronavirus, which happens to be in the same viral family as the cold. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

The Zinc Level of COVID Survivors Was Significantly Higher

The study, conducted by Dr. Roberto Güerri-Fernández of Hospital Del Mar, Barcelona, Spain, and his colleagues, involved a group of 611 men and women with an average age of 63, suffering from COVID-19 symptoms who were admitted to their COVID-19 unit mid-March through the end of April. 

Analyzing blood work, they focused on their fasting blood levels of zinc, zeroing in on 249 of them, 21 who died. The group zinc level averaged out to 61 micrograms per deciliter. However, those who died had an average of 43 while the zinc level of survivors was significantly higher — 63.1 micrograms per deciliter. Even after adjusting for variables, they found that each unit increase in blood levels of zinc at the time a patient checked into the hospital corresponded with a 7% lower risk of death. 

"Lower zinc levels at admission correlate with higher inflammation in the course of infection and poorer outcome," the study authors noted.

"We have submitted a paper with this work and some in vitro studies that demonstrate that zinc has some clinical implications in virus control," Dr. Güerri-Fernández told Univadis. I believe that if these results are confirmed further studies with zinc supplementation could be done. Moreover, some studies have already been done with zinc and respiratory infections. Probably those patients with lower levels are the ones that would benefit the most."

RELATED: 11 Symptoms of COVID You Never Want to Get

Zinc Is Important

While the study is by no means conclusive, taking zinc if you are deficient — especially during cold and flu season — is always a good idea. However, taking more than you need isn't going to result in extra protection from anything. 

"It's very clear: If you are zinc deficient, your immune system will not function as well," said Dr. David Hafler, professor of neurology and immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine, told the New York Times

"There's no question that zinc is important. But once you have the minimal amount of zinc, there's no evidence that adding more boosts the immune system." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah