Zinc eases colds

The conventional wisdom is that there is no “cure” for the common cold. While that may be true in its purest sense there are certainly natural ways to reduce your chances of catching a cold and of minimising the effect of a cold. The most recent testament to this came in a review of the existing literature on the mineral zinc.

The common cold is perhaps the most widespread illness in the world. It is estimated that adults catch a cold between two and four times every year while children in school typically catch ten to twelve colds annually. There is no single treatment that will eradicate a cold immediately, or definitely prevent catching one, but with it being such a widespread malady every medical company on the planet is searching for a “magic bullet” that will stop colds in their tracks.

In 1984 a study emerged showing that zinc taken as a lozenge could reduce the duration of a cold. This caused some excitement but then in 1999 a review of the available literature found that there was no strong evidence that zinc was effective. The good news is that a new review has found more positive results for this mineral as a cold treatment.

The new review looked at fifteen different trials that included a total of 1360 subjects. Combining all of the results they firstly found that taking zinc in syrup, lozenge, or tablet form within a day of the onset of cold symptoms reduced the severity and duration of the cold. Secondly, more patients who had taken zinc were clear of symptoms after a week than people who took a placebo. Children who took zinc in syrup or lozenge form for five months or more contracted fewer colds and had less time off school. Additionally, zinc supplementation reduced the need for antibiotics in children which in times of over-prescription of antibiotics is a great thing.

The trial in 1984 used 23mg of zinc per lozenge dissolving one lozenge in the mouth every two hours. These researchers say that there is not enough evidence to establish an exact dosage but zinc should certainly be on the list for anyone wanting to reduce their chances of catching a severe cold and limiting it if they do catch one.

Aside from supplement forms zinc can be found in oysters, lobster, crab, beans, grains, red meat, and poultry.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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