New York: Researchers have reported that zinc supplements for both men and women attempting to conceive either naturally or through assisted reproduction during the pandemic may prevent mitochondrial damage in young egg and sperm cells.
According to the researchers, including Husam Abu-Soud from the Wayne State University in the US, zinc supplementation of up to a maximum of 50 mg per day for all adults could also be beneficial in enhancing immunity and fighting the viral disease process of COVID-19.
For the study, published in the journal Reproductive Sciences, the researchers reviewed the pathophysiology of COVID-19, particularly in relation to reproductive function.
They found that zinc depletion in connection with the cytokine storm -- the overreaction of the immune system that causes inflammation, tissue damage and possible organ failure in fighting COVID-19 -- can cause mitochondrial damage and an accumulation of reactive oxygen species in the immature egg and sperm.
The result could prevent reproduction and conception, the researchers said.
Zinc has beneficial effects as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, and could prevent or mitigate the damage in the egg and sperm cells that result from the body's immune reaction to the virus, Abu-Soud said.
The use of zinc could improve embryo quality and potentially lessen some pregnancy complications, he added.
Fruits like avocados, blackberries, pomegranates, raspberries, guavas, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, kiwifruit, and blueberries are rich in zinc.
Food items like meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy products, eggs and whole grains are also excellent sources of zinc.
The researcher also noted that zinc can be beneficial to the general population in enhancing immunity and fighting the viral disease process. The element works by combating oxidative cell damage.
Zinc alone may be insufficient to reverse the process once widespread oxidative cell damage has occurred, the researchers said.
However, if the supplement is administered to those infected with COVID-19 before the cytokine storm phase, zinc may assist in ameliorating disease progression in the mild and early phases by suppressing viral replication and preventing cell damage as a pro-antioxidant, they added.