Stuffy nose, sore throat, a non-stop cough — now that cold and flu season is here, these pesky symptoms may become all too familiar. But according to a new study, if you do come down with something, you can make your illness shorter by taking zinc supplements.
Zinc is an essential micronutrient that our body needs but doesn’t produce, so we get most of it through our diet. The mineral boosts our immune system, reduces inflammation, manages blood sugar, and promotes a healthy heart and blood vessels. That’s why it’s important to include it in your diet, and a new study published on the BMJ Open says it could help cut down how long you’re sick.
While the study doesn’t have a definitive amount of zinc you should take, in general, the daily recommended amount of zinc is 8 mg for women. For this study, researchers looked at 28 clinical trials involving 5,446 adults to see how the mineral affects respiratory infection. The findings give several examples of how it can help battle respiratory infection and those pesky symptoms.
How Zinc Can Help You Feel Better
Twenty-five of the trials showed that zinc cough drops and nasal sprays prevented five respiratory tract infections in 100 people a month. In three trials, these also prevented the development of more severe symptoms like fevers. On average, taking zinc supplements helped clear symptoms up to two days earlier. The study says that zinc wasn’t associated easing with the severity of the daily symptoms overall, but there was a significant reductions of severity on day three.
No serious side-effects of taking zinc were reported, though nausea and nose irritation was 40 percent more likely. However, the study didn’t have a clear answer on the best way to consume zinc — or the most effective dose. Instead, a series of ways to take the mineral were studied. This includes through cough drops, nasal spray, gels, or a liquid formulation taken under the tongue.
Yet the study does suggest zinc could be helpful when wanting to find quicker relief for respiratory symptoms.
“The marginal benefits, strain specificity, drug resistance and potential risks of other over-the-counter and prescription medications makes zinc a viable ‘natural’ alternative for the self-management of non-specific [respiratory tract infections],” the researchers wrote. “[Zinc] also provides clinicians with a management option for patients who are desperate for faster recovery times and might be seeking an unnecessary antibiotic prescription.”
Next time you’re struggling with cold symptoms, talk to your doctor about turning to zinc as treatment. A nasal spray, like this GIVOL Organic ZINC Boost Mist (Buy on Amazon, $19), or some soothing Nature’s Way Zinc Lozenges (Buy on Amazon, $4) could work their magic on your symptoms. Finding the right way to take the supplement will make a big difference!