Take Zinc to Fight a Cold, Say Scientists

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While zinc is perhaps best known for protecting cars against rust, in minute quantities it has a host of important physiological functions.

Now a review of 15 clinical trials published since 1984 has concluded that taking supplements can reduce the length of a cold and help ward one off in the first place.

The conclusions of the Cochrane Collaboration, an Oxford-based not-for-profit institution that reviews existing studies to spot trends missed by looking at them individually, could lead in time to zinc replacing vitamin C as the cold ‘cure’ of choice.

The latest Cochrane Review found that people who took a zinc syrup solution or lozenge every two hours while they had a cold were twice as likely to have shed it within a week as those who took a placebo.

Children who took a zinc tablet once a day for at least five months were also a third less likely to get colds as those who took a placebo.

The scientists concluded: "Evidence shows that zinc is beneficial for the common cold in healthy children and adults living in high-income countries.

"Pooled results from the trials showed that zinc reduced the duration and severity of common cold symptoms when used therapeutically.

"Zinc also reduced the incidence of the common cold, school absence and antibiotic use in healthy children."

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