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Does a zinc supplement help fight a cold?

Thursday February 6, 2014 at 1:30pm
Zinc for colds

A Cochrane Review (independent publishers of highly respected evidence) in 2013 studied 18 clinically controlled trials on almost 2000 people which examined the effects of Zinc on the common cold.

A major contributor to work and school absence

The common cold is the leading cause of people missing school and work therefore its effects on the population cannot be underestimated.  The economy and childrens education is effected by this illness and the resultant impact is considerable. Can it be minimised?

A reduction in severity and length

Studies have been conducted which compare zinc with a placebo.  The findings concluded that taking a zinc supplement can reduce the severity and length of common colds. Zinc was found to reduce the duration of colds by about a day on average if taken within 24 hours of symptoms starting and symptoms were less likely to continue beyond 7 days. The studies were done with lozenges and syrup - a dose of ≥ 75 mg/day was found to be the optimal amount to be taken throughout the duration of the cold. A zinc tablet could also be taken, these are often combined with Vitamin C to improve their taste as some people can find them unpalatable.

What about Vitamin C?

It has long been commonly thought that Vitamin C helps to prevent and treat the symptoms of a cold - this was an idea pioneered in the 1930's.  More recent trials undertaken to study the effect of Vitamin C on the common cold have unfortunately proven this idea to be unfounded, revealing that Vitamin C has no effect on preventing colds and has only a minimal impact on reducing its effect. 

Further studies are required on the use of zinc so we are likely to learn more about this in the future after further studies.


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