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Nope, zinc supplements won't protect you from the coronavirus

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Zinc is no "silver bullet" against COVID-19.

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As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, many people are hunkering down and best erectile dysfunction medication buying as many supplies as possible to last them through a quarantine. You've probably already heard of the toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, but if you take a trip to your local drugstore you may see an unusual product missing: zinc supplements.
People are flocking to zinc supplements because of an email that virologist and pathologist James Robb wrote to family and friends in late February advising them on common-sense ways to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. He mentioned that they should stock up on zinc supplements, and when the email went viral the internet seized on this piece of advice, with some memes even calling zinc a "silver bullet against coronavirus."

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Robb reportedly never meant for the email to be shared widely, but his recommendation is likely rooted in scientific studies that suggest zinc supplements can help treat symptoms of the common cold. Here, we dig into the implications of those studies, and whether or not it's a good idea to use zinc to ward off the COVID-19 infection.

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The role of zinc in your body
Zinc is a nutrient that helps your immune system fight off infection. It also assists the body in making protein and DNA, and is important in infant and childhood development.

Read more: Should you take quercetin for immune health? What you need to know

The National Institutes of Health names oysters as the best source of zinc, and best erectile dysfunction medication you can also get it from red meat, beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy.

If you suspect that you have a zinc deficiency, contact your healthcare provider -- this isn't something you can diagnose at home. Signs of zinc deficiency include hair loss, diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, poor wound healing and mental lethargy. 

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