Health Tips with Melusine: Minerals (like Zinc)

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

“Taking lots of zinc helps fight off the common cold, so it’ll help fend off COVID-19!”

– someone who does no research and listens to their idiot anti-vax neighbor

You guys really make me hate this gig sometimes.

Alright! I taught you about vitamins a couple of weeks back–now it’s time we discuss minerals.

What are Minerals?

While most hear the word “minerals” and think of rocks or pretty crystals, you can rest assured that I won’t be giving you a lecture on geology. This is a health segment, after all–and in terms of health, minerals are chemicals our bodies process as essential nutrients. Sound familiar? That’s because minerals and vitamins go hand in hand, providing your body with everything it needs to fire on all cylinders. Together with vitamins, minerals are the second of the four groups of essential nutrients that we need to consume. Maybe I’ll go over the final two in a joint article.

Minerals are divided into two categories: major (macrominerals) and minor (microminerals or trace elements).


MineralFunctionRDA*Natural Sources
Calciumhealthy bones, teeth, & immune system, relaxing/contracting muscles, nerve function, BP regulation, blood clotting1000 mgcinnamon, dairy products, dill, eggs, leafy greens, nuts, oregano, salmon, sardines, seeds, thyme, tofu
Magnesiumhelps process adenosine triphosphate320-420 mgavocado, legumes, nuts, peanut butter, seeds, spinach, whole grains
Phosphoroushealthy bones & teeth, maintains acid-base balance700 mgbread, dairy products, fish, oats, poultry, red meat, rice
Potassiumfluid balance, muscle contraction, nerve transmission4700 mgbanana, beans, carrot, dairy products, lentils, orange, potato, prune, seafood, sweet potato, tomato
Sodiumfluid balance, muscle contraction, nerve transmission1500 mgmilk, salt (table), sea vegetables, spinach
Table of macrominerals. *Recommended Dietary Allowance


MineralFunctionRDA*Natural Sources
Chlorinefluid balance, stomach acid2300 mgsalt (table)
Cobaltsynthesis of vitamin B12N/Aanimal products & byproducts
Copperiron metabolism0.9 mglegumes, liver, nuts, oysters, seafood, seeds, some whole grains
Iodinehelps regulate growth, development, & metabolism0.15 mgeggs, grains, salt (iodized), seaweed (kelp, kombu)
Ironenergy metabolism, carries oxygen in the body8-18 mgbeans, dark chocolate, meat, nuts, seafood
Manganeseco-factor in superoxide dismutase1.8-2.3 mgcoffee, grains, leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, tea
Molybdenumxanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, & sulfite oxidase0.045 mglegumes, nuts, whole grains
Seleniumantioxidant0.055 mgdairy products, eggs, grains, meats, nuts (Brazil), organ meats, seafood
Sulphurproduction of insulin, keratin, & collagenN/Aeggs, fish, legumes, meats, milk, nuts, poultry
Zincmakes protein & genetic material, taste perception, healing, fetal development, sperm production, growth, sexual maturity, healthy immune system8-11 mgdairy products, nuts, oysters, poultry, red meat, whole grains
Table of microminerals. *Recommended Dietary Allowance

Why are there Recommended Dietary Allowances for minerals?

For the same reason that there are RDAs for vitamins: too much of a good thing can make you sick. Literally–too much cobalt leads to cobalt poisoning, too much copper leads to copper toxicity, too much calcium can make you hypercalcaemic… And, as with all healthy things, too much zinc is not good for you.

Take another second to reference the table above. Notice the difference between the RDA of zinc and, say, that of magnesium. That is a vast difference in dosage, and for good reason: ingesting more than 50 mg of zinc is considered toxic overexposure, which can suppress the absorption of copper and iron–you know, those other minerals you need.

Signs of Zinc Toxicity

  • cramps
  • pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • copper deficiency
  • increased levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL)
  • decreased levels of high-level lipoproteins (HDL)

In extreme cases, you might experience shakes, chills, or a fever–but this is usually induced by inhaling zinc oxide, which can accumulate during the welding of galvanized (zinc-coated) materials, so most of you don’t have to worry about that.

So… Zinc DOESN’T help with the common cold?

I didn’t say that.

Zinc has been used to treat and even prevent the common cold, and the mineral was associated with the reduction of common cold symptoms–but not a reduction in the severity of the cold itself. Sure, taking zinc supplements and products marketed specifically to combat the common cold with zinc as an ingredient certainly played a role in lowering the chances of developing colds (implying that it may also help prevent them), but studies show that people who took zinc experienced more nausea and instances of “bad taste” than those who were taking a placebo. In other words, you can use zinc as a treatment for the common cold, but remember that you can still ingest toxic levels.

So, zinc does help with the common cold, even if you shouldn’t take it in excess on a regular basis–that means it should help with COVID-19, right?

There really isn’t a way to confirm that at this time. Keep in mind that, while some cases of the common cold are caused by a coronavirus (the same virus family as COVID-19), most cases are caused by a rhinovirus, meaning they’re associated with upper respiratory tract infections. Since they normally stem from two different virus families, there’s a chance that zinc won’t be as efficient in warding off the virus or minimizing its symptoms. Even so, you shouldn’t lose hope–there are scientists out there that believe there may in fact be a link between the two, so it’s always a possibility.

The bottom line?

Zinc, as with all minerals, must be consumed in moderation. Take too little, you’ll deprive your body of an essential nutrient; take too much, and you’ll make yourself sick. Sure, you can take zinc when you’re sick with a cold or every now and again in an effort to prevent catching one, but you need to keep that RDA in mind, or else you’ll reach toxic levels of zinc.

And quit getting all your health advice from Facebook moms with too much time on their hands. Rule of thumb: if they share really crappy memes from 2008, talk crap about customer service/fast-food workers, and say crap like, “kiDs tHesE dAys,” they’re not a reliable source for anything.

Stay healthy, Citizens!

Melusine Jordan

Guest Poster

Source #1 | Source #2 | Source #3 | Source #4 | Source #5 | Source #6

The information contained in this article is for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a healer or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.


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