Zinc is a mineral that can be easy to forget about until you realize how important it is for your well-being. It is a must for the immune system, muscle healing, emotional balance, and prostate health, just to mention a few of the many reasons for its importance.
That’s because zinc interacts with at least 300 difference enzymes and reactions in the body. When it comes to immune system health, it helps keep your defenses strong by bolstering white blood cell activity.
The pooled results of three studies found that zinc reduced the duration of cold symptoms by 42 percent compared to a placebo. Bear in mind that those results were seen in the first 24 hours of a cold, so it’s important to get extra zinc into a regimen right away if you start feeling ill.
This isn’t to say that zinc is a cure-all for any immune condition. But it does underscore how important a proper intake of basic nutrients is for keeping healthy. If you’re thinking about adding zinc to your regimen, be careful not to overdo it – you’re likely to be already getting some zinc from your multivitamin or other supplemental sources. An excellent supplemental form of zinc is chelated to the amino acid glycine. This amino acid helps shepherd minerals through the intestinal wall, allowing them to be readily used by the body.
Hemilä H. Zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of colds: a systematic review. Open Respir Med J. ;5:51–58.
Background: A number of controlled trials have examined the effect of zinc lozenges on the common cold but the findings have diverged. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the total daily dose of zinc might explain part of the variation in the results.
Methods: The Medline, Scopus and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials data bases were searched for placebo controlled trials examining the effect of zinc lozenges on common cold duration. Two methods were used for analysis: the P-values of the trials were combined by using the Fisher method and the results of the trials were pooled by using the inverse-variance method. Both approaches were used for all the identified trials and separately for the low zinc dose and the high zinc dose trials.
Results: Thirteen placebo-controlled comparisons have examined the therapeutic effect of zinc lozenges on common cold episodes of natural origin. Five of the trials used a total daily zinc dose of less than 75 mg and uniformly found no effect. Three trials used zinc acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg, the pooled result indicating a 42% reduction in the duration of colds (95% CI: 35% to 48%). Five trials used zinc salts other than acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg, the pooled result indicating a 20% reduction in the duration of colds (95% CI: 12% to 28%).
Conclusions: This study shows strong evidence that the zinc lozenge effect on common cold duration is heterogeneous so that benefit is observed with high doses of zinc but not with low doses. The effects of zinc lozenges should be further studied to determine the optimal lozenge compositions and treatment strategies.
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