Laura Power, MS, PhD, LDN
Allergy & Nutrition Clinic

It has been reported that an early symptom of CoronaVirus is the loss of smell and taste. It is most common in older persons. This has recently appeared in science articles and on TV News. But all we hear from medical experts is that this has also appeared with other viruses. But no discussion of the cause.


This is a classic zinc deficiency. It can cause a loss of smell called Anosmia, also a loss of taste called hypogeusia. Zinc is a crucial nutrient for the immune system. Zinc is transported throughout the the body by neutrophils (white blood cells) to sites that are injured or infected. There zinc helps to repair the damaged cells. Zinc is a cofactor for many metallo-enzymes required for cell membrane repair, cell proliferation, growth and immune system function. Zinc is also a significant component in the innate immune defense against bacterial pathogens of many kinds, and against viruses.

Zinc and Taste Disturbances in Older Adults: A Review of the Literature.
Michele Pisano 1 , Olga Hilas
PMID: 27178656 DOI: 10.4140/TCP.n.2016.267

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 35% to 45% of adults 60 years of age or older had zinc intakes below the estimated average requirement of 6.8 mg/day for elderly females and 9.4 mg/day for elderly males. Zinc deficiency may lead to loss of appetite, impaired immune function, weight loss, delayed healing of wounds, eye and skin lesions, and smell and taste disturbances. Older adults are especially affected by changes in taste sensations because of age-related gustatory dysfunction, use of multiple medications, increased frailty, and zinc deficiency. This article reviews the finding of clinical studies investigating the use of zinc supplementation for improvement with taste disturbances in older adults.


A 1998 systematic review (which did not include a quantitative synthesis of data) suggested that zinc was beneficial in reducing the duration and severity of cold symptoms. A meta-analysis published in June 2011 concluded that zinc lozenges reduce the duration of cold symptoms by 12% or more.

J Fam Pract. 2011 Nov; 60(11): 669-671. PMCID: PMC3273967 PMID: 22049349 Goutham Rao, MDcorresponding author and Kate Rowland, MD


Your body needs more zinc during a viral infection. The best forms are: Zinc citrate and Zinc Picolinate, or Zinc bisglycinate if you can find it. Adults take about 50-75 mg. Children should take 10 - 25 mg / day based on their age and size. Do NOT take on an empty stomach, as it can cause nausea and vomiting. Also other articles warn about taking zinc nasally, because it can cause permanent loss of smell and/or taste.


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from Laura Power
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