Can zinc, vitamin C, herbs and spices boost your immune system to fight against COVID-19?
Take a look at the latest finger-licking claims on immunity boosters against COVID-19, and find out what the FACTS really are!
Claim : Zinc, Vitamin C, Herbs + Spices Help Fight COVID-19!
Coffeeland – which manufactures ice-blended coffee – just produced a video that is being shared on WhatsApp.
In that video, Ray Wong, their Head of Research & Development, tells viewers about minerals, herbs and spices that can boost our immune system against COVID-19.
Let’s go through his advice and see what the facts really are!
Zinc, Vitamin C, Herbs + Spices vs COVID-19 : The Finger Licking Facts
Here is the short version – there is currently no evidence that zinc, vitamin C, herbs and spices can help boost your immune system to fight against COVID-19.
Perhaps some of them may work. But there is simply NO EVIDENCE to prove their efficacy against COVID-19, at the moment.
Guess what has been proven to work? COVID-19 vaccines! So get vaccinated, instead of watching random videos on WhatsApp!
For those who want to learn more, please continue…
Claim #1 : Zinc Stops Virus Replication
Verdict : Not Confirmed
Ray calls zinc a very powerful mineral inside our body – the most important mineral to enhance our immune system, and it stops virus replication.
It is true that zinc is important for our immune system, but the only evidence for zinc’s effects on virus replication are a few in-vitro (lab) studies.
This one examined the inhibition of H1N1 influenza virus in dog kidney cells using zinc oxide nanoparticles, while this one shows zinc ions (Zn2+) inhibiting coronavirus and arterivirus RNA polymerase activity in African green monkey kidney cells (Vero E6).
While promising, these lab studies are a long way from demonstrating that zinc supplements stop virus replication in human cells.
Claim #2 : Zinc Supplement Will Boost Your Immune System
Verdict : Not Confirmed
Zinc is an important mineral for our immune system, and a lack of zinc increases your risk of getting pneumonia and other infections, and slows wound healing.
However, there is currently no evidence that extra zinc can boost your immune system, much less reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.
In fact, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends against the use of zinc supplements for the prevention of COVID-19.
Claim #3 : You Should Take 15 mg Zinc Daily
Verdict : That Depends
Zinc is a micronutrient, and dietary deficiency is rare, because the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is very low :
|Life Stage||US RDA||Upper
|Birth to 6 months||2 mg||4 mg|
|Infant : 7-12 months||3 mg||5 mg|
|Child : 1-3 years||3 mg||7 mg|
|Child : 4-8 years||5 mg||12 mg|
|Child : 9-13 years||8 mg||23 mg|
|Teen : 14-18 years||11 mg (male)
9 mg (female)
|Adult||11 mg (male)
|Pregnant Teen||12 mg||34 mg|
|Pregnant Adult||11 mg||40 mg|
|Breastfeeding Teen||13 mg||34 mg|
|Breastfeeding Adult||12 mg||40 mg|
Most people will get more than enough zinc from their daily diet. Only those with these conditions should consider zinc supplementation :
- you have digestive disorders like ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease
- you are a vegetarian
- infants over 6 months of age on breastmilk
- you are an alcoholic
- you have sickle cell disease
Ray’s recommendation of taking 15 mg of zinc won’t do any harm, if you are an adult. If you feel better popping a pill, go ahead.
However, 15 mg is too much for children and infants. Please check the table above for recommended limits by the US National Institutes of Health.
Too much zinc is dangerous, and can cause nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, headache… and lower immunity.
You should also note this US NIH warning : Long-term zinc supplementation can cause copper deficiency with subsequent reversible hematologic defects (i.e., anemia, leukopenia) and potentially irreversible neurologic manifestations (i.e., myelopathy, paresthesia, ataxia, spasticity).
Claim #4 : Vitamin C Helps With COVID-19
Verdict : No Evidence
Ray recommends taking vitamin C to boost your immune system against COVID-19.
That sounds nice, but vitamin C doesn’t actually boost the immune system. Rather, it is being evaluated for its effect in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in severe COVID.
However, there is currently INSUFFICIENT DATA to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin C in treating COVID-19 patients.
More importantly, patients who are not critically ill with COVID-19 will have less oxidative stress or severe inflammation. So vitamin C may only play a role in patients with severe COVID-19 disease.
Claim #5 : You Should Take 1000-2000 mg Vitamin C Every 4 Hours
Verdict : Potentially Dangerous
Ray recommends taking 1000 to 2000 milligrams of vitamin C every 4 hours if you are infected with COVID-19.
That works out to 6,000 to 12,000 mg of vitamin C daily, which is excessive and potentially dangerous to health.
The US Food and Nutrition Board established these UPPER LIMITS for the daily intake of vitamin C from both diet and supplements :
|1-3 years||400 mg||400 mg||–||–|
|4-8 years||650 mg||650 mg||–||–|
|9-13 years||1,200 mg||1,200 mg||–||–|
|14-18 years||1,800 mg||1,800 mg||1,800 mg||1,800 mg|
|19+ years||2,000 mg||2,000 mg||2,000 mg||2,000 mg|
As you can see, Ray’s recommendation exceeds the FNB upper limits by 3X to 6X for adults, and 5X to 30X for children!
Excessive vitamin C intake can cause diarrhoea, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, reduced vitamin B12 and copper absorption, erosion of the enamel of your teeth, and potentially contribute to the development of cancer.
Claim #6 : Blood Thinners Makes Blood Vessels Thinner
Verdict : False
Ray then talks about anticoagulants, calling them blood thinners that “allow your blood vessels to be thin”.
First of all, anticoagulants is one of two types of blood thinners, and the other type is anti-platelet drugs.
Blood thinners reduce or eliminate the formation of blood clots.
They don’t actually thin the blood, and they do NOT make your blood vessels thinner.
In fact, it would be really terrible if they made your blood vessels thinner – your blood cells would have a harder time getting through!
Claim #7 : Turmeric, Curcumin, Garlic, Cinnamon, Spices Help Against COVID-19
Verdict : No Evidence
Many scientists (and non-scientists) are looking into using these herbs and spices for more than fried chicken.
Could they help against COVID-19? Maybe one day, there will be a finger-licking good study that gives us that good news.
Until then, there is simply no evidence that all those herbs and spices help against COVID-19.
Best keep them in the kitchen, and get yourself vaccinated against COVID-19!
After all, vaccines have been proven to protect you against COVID-19!
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