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Zinc to the Rescue!

Cold coming on? Besides chicken soup, how can we zap that cold most effectively? Zinc lozenges. But not all zinc lozenges are created equal!

 

A new meta-analysis of three studies, meaning results from 3 clinical trials of over 200 people, were analyzed together for their results, gives us clearer data on the story behind zinc.

 

70% of the people taking zinc lozenges recovered from their colds after five days, compared to just 27% of people who took the placebo. On average people on zinc lozenges had improvement in their colds 3 days faster than placebo.

 

What was “cold improvement?” Less cough, nasal congestion, hoarseness, itchy and sore throat, and muscle aches reported!

 

What’s more, the analyzers controlled for a variety of factors like sex, gender, smoking status, age, and even allergies. Even with all of these variations between people, those that took zinc had a 3.1 fold increase in cold improvement compared with those who took a placebo.

 

That’s pretty strong data in favor of zinc. But what is important to look at is how much zinc was effective and in what form!

 

The study participants took daily doses of zinc from 80 to 92 mg. This dose is much higher than the recommended daily intake in the United States, which is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women.

 

Most zinc lozenges have less than this amount so you will need to take multiple doses for a few days.

 

Remember that this level of zinc isn’t for daily intake – too much zinc can cause nausea and stomach upset. Taking 100mg a day for less than 2 weeks is considered safe.

 

Why lozenges? Because the zinc has to completely dissolve in our throats to have an effect on the rhinovirus, the most typical culprit of our common cold!

 

The added ingredients matter as well! Zinc lozenges are known for a bad taste, so some companies have citric acid flavoring. The problem is that citric acid can interact with zinc molecules to make it less available for absorption.

 

If zinc’s taste bothers you, look for peppermint and other non-citrus flavors. Then again, when your cold comes on strong you may not be able to taste it that much anyway.

 

The chemical form of the zinc also matters! The study found zinc acetate lozenges linked to fast cold recuperation. Lozenges containing zinc gluconate don’t have the same benefit as the acetate version.

 

Cold-Eeze is in the gluconate form, while Zicam, a top selling brand, has both versions, but 2:1 concentration of acetate to gluconate form. This is a better form, but it still has citric acid in it so not the best.

 

I’ve found that this form (available online at http://www.lifeextension.com/vitamins-supplements/item01961/Enhanced-Zinc-Lozenges) is the most beneficial one.

 

Aim for at least 75mg a day, acetate form better than gluconate, avoid citric acid flavored lozenges, and start within 24 hours of your cold to see the most benefit in getting better quick!

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0phthalmologist & Health Professional

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