Zinc is an essential mineral generally taken as a supplement to repair wounds, maintain fertility in adults and growth in children, synthesize protein, help cells reproduce, preserve vision, protect against free radicals, and for acne treatment.
In addition, zinc is known to boost immunity and a new review of past studies suggests that taking zinc may cut the time adults have to suffer with a common cold. There are about 62 million cases of the common cold in the United States every year that result in 22 million missed days of work, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The new review, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, compiled data from clinical trials comparing people who took zinc orally to another group that either took a placebo or received no treatment. Overall, the researchers looked at 17 trials that included 2,121 people from one to 65 years old. In those taking zinc, colds were shortened by a little more than one and a half days, on average, compared to participants in the placebo group. In adults, zinc shortened the common cold by a little more than two and a half days compared to the placebo.
Peoples’ cold symptoms also seemed to clear up faster if they took a higher dosage of zinc compared to those who took the least. Although adults who didn’t take zinc tended to have colds lasting a week or more, there was no difference in the severity of cold symptoms on day three in any of the groups.
Good sources of zinc include oysters, meat, eggs, seafood, black-eyed peas, tofu, and wheat germ. Zinc supplements are available and moderate intake of zinc, approximately 15 mg daily, is adequate to prevent deficiencies.
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