Coronavirus: Health experts debunk claims about milk and COVID-19

Health experts have debunked claims that drinking cow’s milk could help ward off coronavirus.

It comes after a Facebook post titled “Fight COVID-19 with a Glass of Milk” by The Bullvine – an American website which describes itself as “an independent, online community for professionals in the dairy breeding industry” – was shared more than 1,500 times.

It claimed that milk protected from the virus because it contains “lactoferrin, which is a protein that helps to fight off viruses,” as well as “Vitamin C and Zinc, which both play very important roles in strengthening your immunity.”

The post has now been given a “false information” tag by Facebook due to a lack of scientific evidence to support the claims.

Health experts in the US say it is misleading to say drinking milk will help prevent or fight off coronavirus – the highly contagious infection which attacks the respiratory system.

“There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

To protect against infection, the CDC recommends washing hands often, avoiding close contact with people who are ill, wearing a face mask when feeling ill, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and social distancing.

The British Nutrition Foundation states that “no food or supplement, can protect you from getting the coronavirus”.

It adds: “Nevertheless, having a healthy diet is important in supporting our immune function and many nutrients influence the body’s ability to fight infection.”

While vitamin C and zinc play vital roles in the body’s immune system, milk does not contain a significant amount of either.

“Cow’s milk is not a good source of vitamin C or zinc based on [the Food and Drug Administration’s] definition of what can be called a ‘good’ source”, the National Dairy Council (NDC) confirmed to Reuters.

The NDC listed other nutrients present in cow’s milk – including Vitamin A, D and protein – that can help maintain healthy immune function.

The British Nutritional Foundation said that while there is some evidence vitamin C and zinc supplements may help with the common cold, it is not clear whether they would have any effect on coronavirus symptoms.

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