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Dear. Dr. Manny,
I've read that zinc supplements may help protect me against COVID-19. Is there any truth to that?
Thanks for your question.
Right now, the most important measure that you can take to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus is social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and following the guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put out for self-quarantine.
However, I do understand your question.
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Zinc supplements have been touted for many years to be effective in shortening the phase of common colds, and there is data to support that impression.
There have been many randomized controlled trials that have shown that zinc supplements can inhibit replication of the common cold viruses and, therefore, reduce the average duration of a common cold.
But clearly, zinc has not shown to kill any common cold viruses, so therefore when it comes to the coronavirus, at the present time one has to be careful in thinking that zinc supplements can be the silver bullet that we are all looking for.
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There are some potential side effects of taking too much zinc. It can be as simple as nausea or as severe as damaging to your sense of smell, depending on the product.
If you are considering taking zinc lozenges in your daily routine, please consult your physician before doing so.
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