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Zinc battles the common cold

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A review article in The Cochrane Library says that taking zinc supplements reduces the severity and duration of the common cold.

The common cold leads to the loss of millions of school days and 40 percent of time taken off from work each year, according to a press release by Wiley-Blackwell.

The previous review on how zinc affects the common cold was published in 1999 and the current review included 15 new trials involving 1,360 subjects.

In the trials, subjects took zinc supplements such as zinc syrup, lozenges or zinc tablets within the first day of the onset of cold symptoms.

The review conducted by Meenu Singh from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India and colleagues found that at seven days, more of subjects who took zinc supplements recovered from the common cold, compared with those who did not.

Zinc supplements can also help reduce the risk of acquiring the common cold.  Trial results showed that children who took zinc syrup or lozenges for five months or longer were less likely to contract the common cold.

"This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold," said Singh.  "However, at the moment, it is still difficult to make a general recommendation, because we do not know very much about the optimum dose, formulation or length of treatment."

Zinc deficiency is known to impair the immune system and zinc deficient people are at higher risk of various infections.

Foods high in zinc include oysters, crab, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fruit yogurt, milk, cashews, almonds, baked beans, and chickpeas.

The common cold also known as nasopharyngitis or simply called a cold is a viral infectious disease that occurs in the upper respiratory system.

The common cold caused often by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses come with symptoms including cough, sore throat, runny nose and fever. The illness lasts often 7 to 10 days without any treatment.

In addition to zinc supplements, other preventative measures and remedies include physical activity, vitamin C, Echinacea, vitamin D, and chicken soup.


David Liu, Ph.D. and editing by Aimee Keenan-Greene
Photo credit: Wikipedia