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Insights into Zinc’s Effectiveness Against the Common Cold

Zinc's Effectiveness Against the Common Cold

United States: People are inundated with advertisements for zinc lozenges, sprays, and syrups that claim to reduce sniffles during cold and flu season. According to a recent evidence assessment, zinc may actually shorten the duration of typical cold symptoms by around two days.

But according to academics, there is little information to draw firm conclusions, and taking zinc may have some unpleasant side effects.

Research Insights:

Senior researcher Susan Wieland, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, stated in a news release that “the evidence on zinc is far from settled.” “More research is necessary before we can be certain of its effects.”

According to study, the idea behind zinc is that the necessary mineral, which is present in a wide variety of meals, may prevent the cold virus from spreading via the mouth, throat, and nose.

Zinc can achieve this, according to lab research, in mice and petri dishes. However, human trials are required to determine if zinc will be effective in people.

Human Trials Awaited

Researchers assessed 19 human studies investigating zinc as a cold remedy and 15 as a cold prevention strategy for this analysis.

Specifically, zinc was studied as a medication to shorten the duration of colds in eight trials involving a total of approximately 1,000 people.

According to the combined findings of those trials, it may help shorten colds by around two days, as opposed to the typical week-long duration seen by individuals who got a placebo.

Zinc’s efficacy to prevent colds or lessen their intensity was not, however, supported by the majority of the research.

Duration Reduction vs. Prevention

The study team also mentioned that gastrointestinal issues, nausea, and bad taste are some of the adverse consequences of taking zinc.

Lead researcher Daryl Nault, an assistant professor at Maryland University of Integrative Health, stated in a press release that “people considering zinc to treat a cold should be aware of the limited evidence base and possible side-effects.” “In the end, the patient must determine whether the possibility of unpleasant side effects outweighs the advantage of possibly reducing the length of their illness by a few days.”

Patient Consideration

Visual Representation of Zinc Dosages. Credit | Getty images

Nault stated that if you don’t feel well, it’s still essential to call your doctor and let them know whether you take any vitamins.

“Although zinc has been the subject of numerous trials, the methods used in these studies differ, making it challenging to draw firm conclusions,” she continued.
Call for Standardization
Researchers noted that a significant variation in zinc dosages, administration strategies, and techniques for reporting and measuring participants’ health existed across the studies included in this assessment of the data.

Path Forward

“Future studies should adopt standardized methods for administering and reporting treatments and defining and reporting outcomes,” Wieland said. “Additional studies focusing on the most promising types and doses of zinc products and using appropriate statistical methods to assess outcomes that are important to patients will enable us to understand whether zinc may have a place in treatment of the common cold.”

The new study appears in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

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