Winter weather is upon us and many of us are starting to get colds. I have already made an article about Vitamin C and how it does nothing to cure a cold. But what about Zinc? Well, there is a lot of conflicting evidence about this, so let's look at them now.
What is Zinc?
If you read my article from before, we already know that the cold is a Virus. But what exactly is Zinc in relation to our bodies? Well, Zinc is a mineral that one can get from the food that they eat.
This nutrient is vital for many purposes. For instance, it helps the body fight off infections and is necessary for the creation of proteins and DNA. This being said, is there any evidence that taking more than what your body needs can reduce the chances of getting a cold, or how long you experience one?
Can Zinc cure a cold?
When it comes to "curing" a cold, we currently do not have anything that can really do that. However, that does not mean that Zinc does not have an effect at all. In fact, studies show that it can reduce the duration of a cold by a significant amount. Even as much as 33%.
This means that the normal duration of a cold can be shorter by as much as 1 or 2 days. But is this a safe way to feel better sooner?
What are the potential side effects of Zinc?
Well, we have to be careful in the way that we claim effectiveness and side effects. For instance, Zinc Lozenges are the most common of the Zinc-based remedies out there. However, there are Zinc nasal sprays too. The main issues with this are that Zinc nasal sprays are likely to cause permanent damage to your sense of smell. Many people who have taken them have complained of losing their sense of smell completely.
This is because Zinc in high amounts can irritate your mouth and nose. But what about the lozenges? Well, the main issues with these are that they taste horrible and can cause nausea.
These may be useful in reducing the duration of a cold (not the symptoms), but the side effects do not seem to make them worth it. I would rather have a cough for a few more days than not be able to smell anymore. How about you?
Check out this wonderful video by Aaron Caroll on myths surrounding cold remedies.