Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Zinc for Colds?

If Vitamin C is not the answer to prevention or treatment of colds, what about zinc? Around 25 years ago, studies showed that zinc lozenges could significantly reduce the duration of the common cold. Since that time, the medical literature has been conflicting, with roughly half of the studies showing benefit, and half appearing equal to placebo.

Zinc nasal preparations were then released, but in 2009, the FDA issued a warning that these intranasal zinc preparations had the potential to cause permanent loss of smell, so they are no longer recommended.

It turns out that you need to have ionic zinc in the lozenges to be effective, and the vast majority of products out there do not have this type of zinc. Taking zinc supplements in pill form doesn't work either, so don't be fooled into swallowing yet another pill.

What DOES work? Well, the best prevention is what your mom most likely taught you growing up: WASH YOUR HANDS! It doesn't matter if you use the hand sanitizer or old-fashioned soap and water, but whatever you use, scrub for 20 to 30 seconds, and try not to touch your face or eyes.

BOTTOM LINE: If you are going to use zinc to try to shorten the duration of your cold, get an ionic zinc lozenge preparation. More importantly, however, WASH YOUR HANDS!

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