Zinc is a nutrient known for its anti-viral properties—and it might offer help to people diagnosed with the coronavirus.

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Could dosing up on zinc help stave off severe illness from COVID-19? It’s a question garnering closer attention in the scientific community in recent months. After all, zinc is known for its antiviral effects. And both the common cold and the current global pandemic are caused by viruses in the same family, known as coronaviruses. So could zinc be one of the keys to supporting the immune system and thwarting damaging inflammation caused by this new scourge?

There’s no definitive answer to that question. But preliminary research released at an online European coronavirus conference this week hints at a possible link between lower blood levels of zinc and poorer health outcomes in people with COVID-19.

Dr. Roberto Güerri-Fernández of Spain led the retrospective study, which looked at symptomatic people admitted to a Barcelona hospital from mid-March through the end of April. Fasting blood levels of zinc were taken from all 611 men and women (63 years old, on average) admitted to the COVID-19 unit during the study period. Researchers also had access to other lab results and patient data, including pre-existing conditions.

For the current analysis, the team focused on a representative sample of just 249 patients, including 21 who died. Zinc levels of those 249 people were 61 micrograms per deciliter, on average, when they were admitted to the hospital. But when researchers compared survivors’ zinc levels to those who succumbed to the disease, they found a significant difference: 63.1 versus 43 micrograms per deciliter, on average. After adjusting for variables like age, sex, and severity, each unit increase in blood levels of zinc at the time of their admission was associated with a 7% lower risk of dying in the hospital.

“Lower zinc levels at admission correlate with higher inflammation in the course of infection and poorer outcome,” the study authors noted.

While the study ties lower zinc levels at admission to increased risk of death in patients with COVID-19, it does not prove that one causes the other. It merely shows an association between the nutrient and the disease, Philip C. Calder, PhD, who was not involved in the study, tells Health. Calder is a professor of nutritional immunology and head of human development and health at the University of Southampton  in the UK.

Before you start stocking up on zinc, keep several points in mind. First, the study is limited to a small group of patients at one hospital. The authors acknowledge that further research is necessary to assess  any possible therapeutic effect. The findings,  presented at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases’ online coronavirus disease conference, have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal; they’re considered preliminary findings at this point.

Leo Anthony Celi, MD, principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says there are “countless examples where fixing some abnormal finding does not change the outcome of a disease.” In other words, we don’t really know whether “fixing” blood levels of zinc would have any effect whatsoever on how COVID patients fare. Plus, he tells Health: “There may be other factors apart from age, sex, and illness severity that may confound the relationship between serum [blood] zinc levels and outcomes from COVID-19.”

Zinc has some specific anti-viral actions, Calder notes. It acts to support the immune system and control inflammation, “therefore these findings could make sense,” he says. He also noted that similar data have been published for selenium and vitamin D. Bottom line: People should try to make sure that they get enough of these nutrients in their diet or, if they’re worried, they can take a multi-nutrient supplement, says Calder.

Actual zinc deficiency is uncommon in North America, according to National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. When it does occur, it’s usually due to inadequate intake or absorption of the mineral—and in those cases, eating food rich in zinc, such as oysters, red meat, beans, and nuts, or taking a supplement might make sense. Consult your doctor first.

Doing something, like taking a supplement, to reduce our susceptibility to COVID-19 has a certain allure, Dr. Celi concedes. But should you count on zinc to protect you and your loved ones? “Based on what we know at present,” he says, “nothing beats the use of masks and the avoidance of crowds.”

Source: https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/taking-zinc-for-covid

Here’s why we need to start embracing face coverings for the long haul, according to experts.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed what the science has been telling us all along about the effectiveness of face masks — that they’re currently our best bet at getting a handle on the coronavirus pandemic.

They make such a difference, in fact, that some experts suspect they’ll be just as reliable ― if not more ― as a vaccine when it comes to blunting the spread of COVID-19.

“These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have, and I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings,” Redfield said during a recent Senate hearing.

Redfield went onto to say that masks may offer more of a guarantee than a vaccine. President Donald Trump later shut down the comments, but the medical community stood behind Redfield.

Because the vaccines are still in clinical trials, it’s currently unclear how effective they’ll be. It’s thought they may trigger an immune response in about 70% of people, rendering some vaccinated people unprotected. Other vaccinated people may not get sick but carry the infection and contribute to community spread, and who knows when we’ll have enough doses for everyone.

The end goal here is herd immunity, and to achieve that we’ll need enough of the population to be immune to COVID-19, either through a highly effective vaccine or by beating the infection itself.

Long story short: There are way too many unknowns to start taking our masks off soon. Until we have more data, health experts say masks are a must for a while. Here’s why we’re still going to need to wear masks well into 2021:THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO TAKING CARE OF YOUR MIND AND BODYSubscribe to HuffPost’s wellness emailSuccessfully Subscribed!Wellness delivered to your inbox

We won’t have enough doses of the vaccine at first.

The main reason masks aren’t going away anytime soon is because there’s going to be a super limited supply of vaccines when it first becomes available.

Those initial doses are likely going to go right to the people who need protection most: at-risk health care workers, the elderly, people with serious underlying health conditions and first responders. The rest of the population in the United States will have to wait, mask on, until there’s enough to go around.

On top of that, the vaccine will probably be administered in two doses about 21 to 28 days apart. According to Kawsar Talaat, an assistant professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, that means it’ll take people about six to eight weeks to fully develop an immune response. People could still theoretically get sick after just the first dose, so mask-wearing will be crucial in between shots.

Similar to the flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccine won’t completely shield you from the disease.

Though it’s still unclear how effective the vaccine will be, experts suspect it’ll invoke an immune response in about 70% of the population. The efficacy could be as low as 50%. (For context, these figures are similar to the flu shot.) Of course, there’s also a chance the protection percentage may be higher.

Basically, some people’s bodies just won’t respond to the vaccine and they mind wind up getting sick anyway; others may be totally fine.

But keep in mind that there are a ton of vaccines being tested right now. While the first one may not be foolproof, some of the others approved in 2021 may be better. So far, it appears that mutation of the coronavirus into different strains isn’t a major concern, which is potentially good news for a vaccine.

“I really hope we can get a vaccine that’s better than 70%. If it’s not the first-generation vaccine, at least maybe the second generation vaccine,” Talaat said.

This doesn’t mean that the vaccine is useless. The goal of the vaccine actually isn’t to prevent an infection entirely, but to reduce the severity of disease. We want more people to get less sick from COVID-19. This is also what the flu shot does every year.

It’s a bit out of reach to expect the vaccine to prevent infection entirely, according to Talaat. This means that even vaccinated people could contribute to community spread if they stop wearing a mask.

“So, theoretically, somebody could have the virus in their nose and potentially spread it to somebody who’s more vulnerable without ever knowing,” Talaat said.

On top of that, we don’t know how long the vaccine’s protection, or durability, will last quite yet.

“Masks will be important until we know some of this information,” Talaat added.

Masks are going to be important for quite some time, according to experts.
Masks are going to be important for quite some time, according to experts.

People are feeling iffy about the vaccine.

Then there’s the whole issue of people feeling skeptical about the vaccine.

Inconsistent messaging during the pandemic has eroded people’s trust in our public heath system. One poll found that two-thirds of the population probably wouldn’t get vaccinated even if they could. It’s going to take a lot of education and reassurance to get people on board.

“I think it will take time for people to accept this vaccine. They will need to observe that there aren’t a whole lot of bad adverse effects from the people who get the vaccine before they’re willing to trust it,” Talaat said.

According to Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine with University of California San Francisco, we may not need the entire population to get vaccinated.

“It’ll naturally slow down once enough people get the vaccine,” Gandhi said. Even if just 60 to 70% of people were protected, it would help us greatly reduce community transmission.

Masks could help close the gap. “Models show that 70, or even better, 80% of the population wearing masks could reduce transmission and symptomatic disease … down to almost zero,” Gandhi said.

In other words, we should embrace masks for a while.

We know masks work.

Lots of data has come out in recent weeks pointing to their effectiveness. One experiment found that the spread of hundreds of respiratory droplets can be blunted by mask-wearing. Another report found that areas with mask mandates had slower COVID-19 growth rates compared to places with no mask requirements.

There are also two documented real-world scenarios showing us that masks really do keep us safe. On an international flight, none of the 25 people sitting near a masked man infected with COVID-19 got sick. In Missouri, two hairstylists were diagnosed with COVID-19 but ultimately did not pass it onto to any of their clients because everyone wore masks.

In other words, it’d be wise to hang on to our masks. It’s going to take all kinds of efforts to bring community transmission down — masks, social distancing and an effective vaccine.

So, how much longer of mask-wearing are we looking at? Gandhi suspects we’ve got at least another year of it. “I would say that all of our population has to mask until we get community transmission down to an acceptable, extremely low level,” Gandhi said.

A vaccine will come and it will help, but masks are also our best bet for a while.

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/face-masks-2021-covid-19_l_5f64be3ec5b6de79b673cabc?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000037&utm_source=parents_fb&utm_campaign=hp_fb_pages&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2hScLC6M6QmIh_3WWJ4iBa3RcvXoEc2RSZYGtJ41_iKHuZoy23F5beOhU

Did you wake up again from another dream about your ex—even though you know you’re over them? These dreams that come and go or repeat can leave you second-guessing yourself. They can even leave you wondering if secretly, deep down, you really are missing them.

I have good news.

Unless your ex just broke up with you, it’s unlikely your dreams are about missing your ex. It’s also unlikely that your dreams about your ex mean that you have hidden romantic feelings toward them, which is another popular belief.

The real reasons you’re dreaming about your ex.

If you don’t still have feelings for your ex, why are you dreaming about them?

Everyone has unusual dreams from time to time. If you have a one-off dream, there is likely nothing to sweat about. But if you have a very vivid dream or repeat dreams about your ex, a deeper message is trying to reach you while you dream.  

There are many reasons dreams happen. Sometimes the “why” isn’t so straightforward. And dreams about our “ex,” specifically, tend to not be straightforward.

Here are three unexpected reasons you might be dreaming about your ex and the messages your dreams may hold:ADVERTISEMENT

1. You let go of the person but not the wounding.

Even if you moved on from your ex, you can still hold onto the pain. For example, this might happen if the breakup was particularly difficult or if one of you said hurtful words. Sometimes we’re able to let go of the person, but we hold on to the wound.  

How to act on the message:

Get curious about what residue of the pain stays with you. Your recent dreams are likely to have some clues. Pay attention to the plots and scenes you are in together along with the emotions in the dream. You can do this by writing out the dream and identifying major emotional themes. Imagine you are creating hashtags for your dreams. Write them down and see if you notice any patterns between your dreams. This can clue you into what wounds might need more healing. (Here’s mbg’s guide to how to get over a tough breakup.)

2. You’re feeling a familiar feeling.

Did the beginning of your relationship with your ex start out passionate and fizzle out fast? Did you feel misunderstood by your ex at the end of the relationship? Or unheard? Sometimes a dream about your ex is more of a reflection of a current feeling in our life and less about the past relationship. You may be feeling something now in your life that’s reminding you of something you felt back then.

How to act on the message:

Reflect on the day(s) before you had the dreams about your ex. Notice what emotional feelings you can identify during those days. For example, if you felt deeply misunderstood when you and your ex broke up, how are you feeling deeply misunderstood now? Or who in your life reminds you of when you felt misunderstood by your ex? Connecting these dots can empower you to address the feeling.

3. Your boundaries need an upgrade.

One of the most unexpected reasons we dream about our ex can be an erosion of healthy boundaries. If we struggled with boundaries when we were with our ex, this same pattern may be emerging again. For example, did you struggle with your own self-care, asking for what you need, or saying no with your ex? Your dreams may be a reminder to upgrade your current personal boundaries.  

How to act on the message:

Consider the different types of boundaries in your life right now. For example, reflect on your boundaries in relationships, with different parts of yourself, and with work. Where do you feel your boundaries are not supporting your well-being? Follow any feelings of resentment. These are often arrows to areas in our life where we need to revamp our boundaries. (Here’s how to set good boundaries, if you need to brush up.)

The bottom line.

Sometimes we dream about our exes even when we have moved on. Instead of thinking of these dreams as unwelcome ghosts from the past, dreams about our exes can be invitations to grow and heal. When we approach these dreams from a place of curiosity rather than fear, we can unlock the deeper messages beyond the surface.

And know this: Once we recognize the meaning, these dreams tend to stop coming back to us, and we can rest easy when we go to sleep. 

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/reasons-youre-dreaming-of-your-ex?mbg_mcid=777:5f6a8fe2ce29510260414628:ot:5c22b3f39799ec3cc6aecb97:1&mbg_hash=57103be3843e0e1cb6615f5efa797221&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_v2_20200923

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