Can zinc supplements cure the common cold?

It is estimated every Briton will suffer at least 200 colds during their lifetime but, since a 'cure' has long evaded scientists, most of us have learned to grin and bear the misery.

Zinc supplements for common cold
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However, new trials have revealed a simple but potentially very effective method of fighting off the pesky virus - zinc.

Researchers studying the results of 13 trials testing the cold-fighting abilities of zinc lozenges, found that the simple mineral supplement could almost halve the length of the cold.

In three of the studies, a daily dose of zinc acetate taken as soon as symptoms appeared, shortened the duration of the cold by an average of 42 per cent.

Five other studies found the same 75mg dosage of zinc salt reduced the duration by 20 per cent, but a further five, using dosages lower than 75mg showed no benefit.

Zinc, found naturally in shellfish, lamb, liver, steak and wholegrains, aids the immune system and too little in the diet is known to increase the risk of infection.

Though the supplement can cause side effects such as stomach upsets and nausea, the researchers from the University of Helsinki found no evidence of long-term harm.

But before you rush out and start stocking up on supplements, it's worth noting that a 75mg dose of zinc is seven times higher than the EU-recommended 10mg per day.

Dr Harri Hemila, who led the study, wrote in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal: "Many trials with daily zinc doses of over 75mg have found significant reduction in the duration of colds.

"Since a large proportion of participants remained without adverse effects, zinc lozenges might be useful as a treatment option for the common cold. More research is needed to find optimal compositions and treatment strategies."

Are you a fan of vitamin and mineral supplements? Have you found a natural remedy to ease your cold symptoms? Leave a comment below...