Zinc and the Common Cold

There is a debate regarding zinc and the common cold. Many people believe that taking zinc lozenges will reduce their cold symptoms -- or even prevent colds altogether. However, the data from research studies examining a link between zinc and the common cold have been inconclusive. Further study is necessary before any recommendations can be made. It is known that long-term use of zinc can have harmful side effects. Also, women who are pregnant should not take zinc to treat or prevent common colds.

Zinc and the Common Cold: An Overview

The connection between zinc and the common cold is a current source of controversy. Many people are convinced that taking zinc lozenges will reduce the duration and severity of their cold symptoms. To test this, research studies were conducted.

Zinc and the Common Cold: Research Results

To date, the evidence supporting the use of zinc for the common cold is inconclusive. Several authors of research studies have recommended that further study of zinc is necessary before recommendations can be made.
For studies that did show a positive effect of zinc on the common cold, treatment began within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms.
It is not recommended that women take zinc for the common cold during pregnancy.

Zinc and the Common Cold: Side Effects

Short-term use of zinc appears to be safe. A bitter or metallic taste is the most commonly reported side effect of zinc lozenges. Long-term use of zinc can be associated with other, more serious, side effects, including:
  • Copper deficiency
  • Decrease in cells used to fight infection.
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Treatment for the Common Cold

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