Is Zinc The Magic Solution To COVID-19?

Our immune system is designed in a way that can fight off foreign cells to protect us against various allergies and infections. It is highlighted time and again to boost immunity through either diet or supplements as COVID-19 continues its grip on the world. Apart from Vitamin C and D, Zinc is another nutrient that has been recognized as a dynamic mineral for our immune systems. It is linked with many living functions in the human body and is intricate in multiple cellular processes. It is vital for more than 300 enzymes in the body, plays a crucial role in protein synthesis, wound curing, DNA synthesis and cell division. It is also essential for an appropriate sense of taste and smell. Besides, zinc makes a significant module of WBC that fights infections.

Poignantly, in spite of being a vital nutrient, the human body cannot yield or store zinc on its own. Thus, it needs to be added through diet. Furthermore, a large percentage of Indians have a lower intake of zinc than the required levels for optimal immune function. Its deficiency reduces inborn and adaptive immune responses. Its lacks are obvious by oxidant stress, enlarged inflammatory process, and life-threatening situations, as well as premature cell death at the cellular and subcellular levels.

What are the Zinc-Rich food sources?

It is naturally present in the foods and available as a dietary supplement. An extensive variety of foods contain zinc.

Some animal-based foods are the greatest source of zinc -oysters top the chart with meat and poultry providing most of the zinc. Plant-based foods are usually low in zinc content. The bioavailability of zinc from vegetarian diets is lesser than non-vegetarian diets. Phytates, which are existing in vegetarian foods like whole-grain breads, cereals, legumes, etc., bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. The vegetarians might profit from using certain food research methods that raise bioavailability of zinc – for example, soaking beans, grains, and seeds in water for some hours before cooking or allowing to sprout; roasting foods or fermenting them are also considered useful.

The plant-based foods comprising a significant amount of zinc, include nuts, like walnuts, almonds, cashews and seeds, like sunflower, pumpkin, watermelon seeds; milk and dairy products; whole grains and legumes, like chickpea, lentils and beans. The fresh fruits and vegetables are generally deprived of zinc. Yet, fruits and vegetables comprising reasonably better sources of zinc include avocados, pomegranates, guavas and mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, separately.

Indian people have a cereal-based diet; so, zinc deficiency is prevalent in the Indian population. Vegans sometimes need as much as 50% more of the RDA for zinc than non-vegetarians. The best way for a strict vegan is to have a well-adjusted diet by including vegetarian foods rich in zinc, like whole grains, legumes, etc.

Zinc, through balanced diet and dietary supplements, is the key to increase immunity for fighting COVID-19. Actually, it would be practical to say that even if numerous vaccines are now present universally as well as in India today, at the same time, it is not yet known whether vaccine-persuaded immunity will be short or long-lived. If protection is short-lived, then one will need regular booster doses but at the same time becomes essential to keep immunity high.