So far, more than 31 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported throughout the world; around 9.7 lakh of the confirmed have died due to related complications. The deaths have been more prevalent in the elderly and those with pre-existing comorbidities such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
Increased inflammatory response in the body has also been one of the reasons for COVID-19 fatalities.
In a recent online conference of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases on COVID-19, researchers shared that low levels of zinc in the body can also result in COVID-19 deaths.
Zinc levels and COVID-19
Previous studies published in journals like PLOS pathogens and Advances in Nutrition have concluded that increased concentration of zinc within the cells can effectively restrict the multiplication of a number of viruses including some coronaviruses.
In a recent study, scientists examined if zinc levels in the plasma can have an effect on the SARS-COV-2 virus. The scientists enrolled 611 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, with a mean age of 63 years, who were admitted to a tertiary university hospital in Barcelona, Spain between 15th March 2020 to 30th April 2020.
Out of all these patients, they only examined 249 patients due to the arrival of the second wave of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain, which made it difficult to collect the data for the rest of the patients.
The scientists documented some of the information of the patients which included pre-existing comorbidities, laboratory findings and severity of COVID-19 at the time of admission. They also collected fasting plasma zinc levels of all the COVID-19 positive patients at the time of admission. Then they used computer modelling and statistical analysis to assess the impact of zinc on these patients.
Results of the study
By the end of the study, 21 patients (8 percent) died. It was seen that the mean baseline zinc level of the 249 participants was 61 micrograms per decilitre (mcg/dl).
The patients who died had lower zinc levels as compared to those who survived. Patients who died had an average of 43mcg/dl zinc in their plasma, whereas the zinc levels for survivors was around 63.1mcg/dl.
Moreover, it was also seen that patients with higher zinc levels had low inflammatory cells such as interleukin-6 in their body while they were actively infected with COVID-19.
By considering other factors such as age, sex, severity of disease and delivery of hydroxychloroquine, it was found that high levels of zinc in plasma reduced the risk of in-hospital deaths by 7 percent.
The scientists further added that COVID-19 patients with plasma zinc level below 50mcg/dl are a 2.3 times higher risk of in-hospital death as compared to those with plasma zinc level at or above 50mcg/dl.
Add zinc to your diet
You can maintain the levels of zinc in your body by adding oysters in your diet as it is believed to have more zinc per serving than any other food item. Other food sources of zinc include beans, nuts, crabs, lobsters, red meat, eggs, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products. Zinc supplements are also available in the market but must not be taken without consulting a doctor.
For more information, read our article on Zinc.
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