Zinc for Colds

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The mineral Zinc can be a powerful ally to help reduce the number of times you get sick. It can also lesson the severity of symptoms and the duration of the colds you might catch.

— Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

This time of year everybody’s wondering, “How can I reduce my risk of getting sick this season?” While we don’t have a cure for the common cold, we do have something almost as good. The little mineral, zinc, has been shown to be effective at reducing the number of times people get colds, as well as shortening the duration and the severity of the symptoms should they get sick. Children who get the recommended daily allowance of zinc every day have been shown to get sick less during the school year, have fewer days of absence from school, and are prescribed fewer antibiotics. Everybody needs to make sure they’re getting the recommended daily allowance of zinc but some people may be particularly at risk for marginal deficiency. Those are vegetarians, people over the age of 60, and individuals taking certain medications, such as thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and ARBs. These are medications that are often used for high blood pressure and heart disease. You want to make sure you’re taking a good multivitamin that provides a minimum of 15 milligrams of zinc every day, and keep some zinc lozenges around the house. The best‑absorbed forms of zinc are zinc glycinate and zinc gluconate. Lozenges that provide 8 to 10 milligrams of zinc are easiest on the stomach. Take as directed on the package, keep some around the house, and hopefully this winter you can sail through the season without getting sick.