True or false: zinc can help fight a cold?

As the cold weather settles in and we find ourselves spending a lot more time indoors, it is the perfect opportunity for cold viruses to multiply shamelessly. Many people at grips with this minor but common infection will quickly make their way to the nearest pharmacy to purchase zinc lozenges. But can zinc really help you tackle a cold?

As the cold weather settles in and we find ourselves spending a lot more time indoors, it is the perfect opportunity for cold viruses to multiply shamelessly. Many people at grips with this minor but common infection will quickly make their way to the nearest pharmacy to purchase zinc lozenges. But can zinc really help you tackle a cold?

In the past two decades, over 100 studies have examined this very question. While some of these studies concluded that zinc is somewhat effective, proposing various mechanisms of action, the vast majority was unable to validate these claims. Therefore, there is no scientific evidence to lead us to believe this mineral element is actually useful as a treatment for the common cold.

One of the most comprehensive of all these studies was published in 2000. Researchers had assigned more than 500 people to take either placebos or zinc lozenges in various doses. The subjects were secluded in hotel rooms where researchers observed them for five days. The authors of the study concluded that while zinc gluconate lozenges produced modest benefits, zinc acetate lozenges had absolutely no impact at all.

In short, the results of the studies that examined the efficacy of zinc lozenges are inconclusive. Nevertheless, if you still choose to take zinc lozenges, you should know the studies that found a certain level of efficacy all agree that treatment must begin within 24 hours of the appearance of cold symptoms to be most effective. Have a healthy winter!

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