Can Zinc Cure the Common Cold?
Add Zinc to Your Arsenal of Cold Remedies
When cold and flu season hits, it seems that no one is immune. Sure, you can wash your hands often, avoid germ-ridden locations and even wear a face mask. But eventually, the common cold will get you.
Or will it?
Doctors and scientists have been looking for a cure for the common cold for years. Herbal remedies like Echinacea seemed promising at first, but enthusiasm has died down recently. Beyond chicken soup and a box of tissues, what else can you reach for?
How about this? News that zinc may help cure the common cold has been announced by researchers - definitively this time. While the supplement may not entirely prevent you getting sick, taking zinc within 24 hours of the first symptoms of a cold may give you great relief!
Zinc and the Common Cold
New medical research on zinc shows that sneezing, coughing, sore throat, stuffy-head and other aches and pains of the common cold can be significantly reduced, or even avoided, by taking the supplement. It doesn't matter whether you use zinc lozenges, tablets or syrups.
Although there was much excitement about zinc as a cold remedy in the 1990s, one study debunked claims of its efficacy. Now, however, the BBC is reporting:
At seven days, more of the patients who took zinc remedies every couple of hours during the daytime had cleared their symptoms compared to those who took placebos.
And children who took 15mg of zinc syrup or zinc lozenges daily for five months or longer caught fewer colds and took less time off school.
People that took zinc reported a shorter bout with the illness, and much less severe symptoms. The Journal of Infectious Diseases reported in 2008 that using zinc lozenges reduced the number of days you may be sick with a cold from 7 to 4 days. Coughing can be cut down from 5 days to 2.
Using Zinc to Cure the Common Cold
How Much Zinc Do you Need?
Unfortunately, medical researchers have not determined the amount of zinc you need to cure the common cold. In other words, there is no consensus on dosage or zinc formulations that are most effective.
Zinc is an essential mineral that our bodies require for proper functioning. You can get zinc naturally from foods like meat, liver, seafood and eggs. For vegetarians and people that do not eat a healthy diet, its easy to get the recommended daily allowance of zinc (12 mg for women and 15 mg for men) in a multivitamin.
Zinc supplements sold as cold remedies usually include about 13 mg of the mineral. However, over the counter zinc products may be diluted with flavors and other additives that reduce the effectiveness of the supplement to fight the common cold.
Dosage and formulation questions aside, the biggest determining factor in the effectiveness of zinc to help you get over a cold fast is when you start taking it. You need to start treatment within 24 hours of the first cold symptom.
Sniffle or sneeze? Time to start taking zinc right away!
How Does Zinc Work to Help You Get Over a Cold?
Researchers are not certain how the zinc mineral helps reduce cold symptoms. However, it does appear to have antiviral properties that reduce the life of the cold virus within your body. When the virus cannot replicate itself or attach to nasal membranes, the duration and severity of the cold is significantly reduced.
In fact, zinc supplements are often taken by healthy adults and children to support brain function and boost immune system strength. No wonder there is such a huge market for the mineral!
As is the case with other research on the common cold, while we may be making progress in determining what works to help you when you have a cold, we haven't quite gotten to the point of complete prevention.
Use Zinc Supplements Effectively
Where Can You Buy Zinc Supplements?
You can buy zinc supplements in just about any location where you find vitamins or herbal remedies. Drug stores, supermarkets, health food shops and more all carry a variety of zinc formulations for consumers.
As noted above, zinc is an essential mineral that our bodies need, regardless of exposure to the common cold. If you add zinc to your daily supplement regimen (and also eat a healthy diet and get good sleep), your body's immunity will be strengthened, leaving you less susceptible to colds in the first place!
© 2011 Stephanie Hicks
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