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Is Taking Zinc for Colds Effective?

三九电影网Everybody wants a quick fix when they’re sick. We find out whether or not one actually exists.

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三九电影网Whether you’re trying to prevent getting sick or already have a cold and just want it to go away sooner, over-the-counter remedies often contain zinc as a cold-fighting ingredient. And since there is no true cure for the common cold, your best option is alleviating your symptoms. But is there any truth to the powers of zinc? To find out, we spoke to , clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, and ,

The Claim:

Taking a zinc supplement or increasing your zinc consumption through whole foods can ward off colds.

The Evidence:

Zinc is a nutrient found in the body that helps the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses, according to the (NIH). It is also important for nervous system development, Elliot says. So it would make sense to load up on the stuff to ward off colds, right? Not quite, explains Rizzo.

“There’s not a ton of evidence that zinc can prevent colds, but there is some that it can decrease the duration of cold,” Rizzo says.

For example, one , published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found that taking zinc acetate lozenges may reduce the length of time of a cold by up to 40 percent. That may be because the common cold is typically caused by a type of virus known as rhinovirus, 三九电影网which lives in the nasal passages and throat, so zinc may work to prevent the rhinovirus from multiplying. The lozenge or syrup form is likely the most effective, as it would coat the throat, therefore targeting where the virus thrives, according to the .

The research is varied, but most of it, like this published in the Open Respiratory Medical Journal, points to the fact that taking a zinc acetate lozenge (that contains 75 milligrams of zinc) within 24 hours of the onset of a cold can reduce the length of the cold by 20 to 40 percent. Which means if your cold lasts for 10 days, the lozenge might reduce it to seven or eight days instead.

三九电影网However, there is no research that can truly recommend dosage and treatment, as studies have been done with varying dosages and timelines of treatment, and the lozenges may cause nausea or at the very least, leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth according to the .

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While zinc may shorten the duration of a cold, it may not necessarily lessen the symptoms. According to , cold medicine alleviates the symptoms, but doesn’t actually help you get better, which is why you’ll also need to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to help return to a healthy state, Rizzo says.

In general, most people don’t need zinc supplements on a daily basis, she adds. According to the , zinc deficiency is rare in North America, though Elliot points out that up to 17 percent of the population is at risk for being deficient. The recommended daily amount of zinc for adult women is 8 mg and adult men is 11 mg. The maximum daily amount of zinc you should consume is 40 mg.

To meet your needs, you can find zinc in foods such as oysters, beef, yogurt, and even grains and fortified cereals, says Elliott. For example, one 3-oz serving of beef chuck roast, one serving of cereal fortified with 25 percent daily value for zinc, and a 1-oz serving of cashews would fulfill your daily zinc requirements.

三九电影网Be sure to ask your doctor about taking a supplement to help you feel better when you get a cold. If you do decide to supplement with zinc when you have a cold, Rizzo suggests looking for products that say “zinc acetate,” as they are better for absorption. And, you should avoid zinc nasal sprays, per a from the FDA that found these products may cause anosmia (loss of the sense of smell).

The Verdict:

In general, there is no need to take a zinc supplement or increase the zinc in your diet, since most people get enough zinc in the foods they eat. However, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it might be necessary to incorporate more foods with zinc, as meat is one main source and compounds in beans and grains can prohibit zinc from fully being absorbed in the body, according to the .

Be sure to talk to your doctor before adding a zinc supplement or more zinc-filled foods to your diet, since there are certain medications zinc supplements may negatively interact with.

There is no evidence that zinc can ward off a cold, however it may help lessen the duration of a cold once you already have symptoms. That said, zinc does have some side effects like nausea so use it with caution and monitor your reaction. The best ways to avoid a cold include washing your hands, not touching your face, staying away from people who are sick, and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, according to .

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