FAQs

ZINC AND COLDS

What is Zinc?

Zinc is an essential mineral that is naturally found in shellfish, red meat, nuts and seeds, beans and dairy products.1 Zinc is present in almost every cell of the body, where it is involved in numerous aspects of cellular activity and metabolism.

Because our bodies do not have a storage system for zinc, we need to get our daily intake of zinc from zinc-containing foods or dietary supplements. Zinc is also present in homeopathic medications such as Zicam® cold remedies, which are used for the treatment of colds and the relief of cold symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough and congestion.

Evidence that Zinc Shortens the Common Cold

Studies on zinc lozenges have shown that taking zinc lozenges reduces the duration of cold symptoms.2 A recent review of more than 25 years of research on the use of zinc for colds concluded that zinc shortens the duration of the common cold. This review, conducted by the U.S. Cochrane Center, looked at 15 studies involving more than 1,300 participants and found that taking zinc within 24 hours of the first signs of a cold reduced cold duration. In addition, people who used zinc had less severe symptoms.

How Zinc Works

While studied for many years, the exact mechanism of action by which zinc works to shorten the common cold is unknown. There are several leading theories. Most colds are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, a family of more than 100 viruses which can multiply in the upper respiratory system (the nasal passages and throat). Cold symptoms typically last about 7-10 days. Research on zinc’s effect on the immune system suggests that zinc interferes with the ability of rhinovirus to multiply. Zinc may also prevent cold viruses from attaching to cells in the lining of the nose and throat.

Evidence suggests that cold-shortening results may vary depending on the specific zinc formulation used and how it is administered.* Zinc gluconate and zinc acetate seem to be better than other forms of zinc for shortening colds. Zinc lozenges and other delivery methods that allow zinc to stay in the throat where the cold virus lives may be the most effective for easing cold symptoms. The effectiveness of zinc in shortening the duration of a cold also relies on regular and frequent dosing during the cold. The proprietary zinc formulation in Zicam® oral cold remedies has been clinically proven* to shorten colds.

DOES ZINC HELP COLDS?

Clinical studies on zinc lozenges have shown that taking zinc lozenges reduces the duration of cold symptoms.2

WILL ZINC SHORTEN A COLD?

A recent review of more than 40 years of research on the use of zinc for colds concluded that zinc shortens the duration of the common cold. A Cochrane review evaluated the results from 15 studies involving more than 1,300 participants.The authors concluded that taking zinc within 24 hours of the first signs of a cold reduced cold duration and that the symptoms were less severe in people who took zinc.3

On the basis of this research, Zinc is used as an ingredient in homeopathic medications including Zicam® cold remedies, which are used for the treatment of colds and the relief of cold symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough, and congestion. Zicam® is clinically proven to shorten colds when taken at the first sign. The first signs of a cold may appear as little as 10 hours after infection with a cold virus, with full-blown symptoms appearing 2-3 days after infection. Common symptoms that signal a cold are scratchy throat, cough, runny nose, body aches, and unexplained tiredness. To shorten a cold, it is important to take action as soon as you notice the first signs of a cold.4

 

HOW ZINC WORKS FOR COLDS

Even after extensive research, the exact mechanism of action by which zinc works to shorten the common cold is uncertain, but there are several theories. Most colds are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, a family of more than 100viruses.Rhinoviruses can multiply in the upper respiratory system (the nasal passages and throat). Cold symptoms typically last about 7-10days. On the basis of studies that evaluated the efficacy of zinc, zinc is thought to interfere with the ability of rhinovirus to replicate. Zinc may also interfere with cold viruses attaching to cells in the lining of the nose and throat.

Research indicates that cold-shortening results may vary depending on the specific zinc formulation used and how it is administered.* Zinc gluconate and zinc acetate seem to be better than other forms of zinc for shortening colds. Zinc lozenges and other delivery methods allow zinc to work with the body and may be the most effective for easing cold symptoms. Regular and frequent dosing during the cold is required for zinc treatments to shorten the duration of the cold.

WHY DOES ZINC HELP WITH COLDS?

Zinc is an ingredient in homeopathic medications such as some Zicam® cold remedies, which are used for the treatment of colds and the relief of cold symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough, and congestion.

CLINICAL STUDIES: ZINC SHORTENS THE COMMON COLD

Forty years of research investigating the use of zinc for colds indicates that zinc can shorten the duration of the common cold. In a review of 15 clinical studies involving more than 1,300 participants, the authors concluded that taking zinc within 24 hours of the first signs of a cold reduced cold duration.3 In addition, the symptoms were less severe in people who took zinc.

HOW ZINC WORKS FOR COLDS

Although the research indicates that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold, the exact mechanism of action by which zinc works is uncertain. However, there are several theories. Most colds are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, a family of more than 100viruses. The cold symptoms you experience – cough, sore throat, and congestion – are effects of the immune response to the cold virus.

Rhinoviruses can multiply in the upper respiratory system (the nasal passages and throat). Cold symptoms typically last about 7-10 days. On the basis of studies that evaluated the effect of zinc, zinc is thought to interfere with the ability of rhinovirus to replicate. Zinc may also prevent cold viruses from attaching to cells in the lining of the nose and throat.

Although it is uncertain how zinc helps with colds, Zicam® is clinically proven to shorten colds when taken at the first sign.

HOW MUCH ZINC SHOULD I TAKE FOR A COLD

This varies by Zicam® product. Follow recommended dosing for each product.

HOW ZINC WORKS FOR COLDS

While studied for many years, the exact mechanism of action by which zinc works to shorten the common cold is unknown. There are several leading theories.Most colds are caused by a type of virus called rhinovirus, a family of more than 100 viruses that can multiply in the upper respiratory system (the nasal passages and throat). Cold symptoms typically last about 7-10 days. Research suggests that zinc interferes with the ability of rhinovirus to multiply. Zinc may also prevent cold viruses from attaching to cells in the lining of the nose and throat

Evidence suggests that cold-shortening results may vary depending on the specific zinc formulation used and how it is administered.*Zinc gluconate and zinc acetate seem to be better than other forms of zinc for shortening colds.Zinc lozenges and other delivery methods allow zinc to work with the body where the cold virus lives and may be the most effective for easing cold symptoms. The effectiveness of zinc in shortening the duration of a cold also relies on regular and frequent dosing during the cold. The proprietary zinc formulation in Zicam® oral cold remedies has been clinically proven* to shorten colds.

DO ZINC TABLETS HELP A COLD?

CLINICAL STUDIES: ZINC SHORTENS THE COMMON COLD

Forty years of research investigating the use of zinc for colds indicates that zinc can shorten the duration of the common cold. In a review of 15 clinical studies involvin gmore than 1,300 participants, the authors concluded that taking zinc within 24 hours of the first signs of a cold reduced cold duration. 3 The results of the clinical studies also showed that cold symptoms were less severe in the people who took zinc than in the people who did not take zinc.

Zinc is an ingredient in homeopathic medications such as Zicam® cold remedies. Zicam® is used for the treatment of colds and the relief of cold symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough and congestion. Zicam® is clinically proven to shorten colds when taken at the first sign.

  1. WedMD. Cold, Flu & Cough Health Center – Zinc for Colds: Lozenges & Nasal Sprays. Available at http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/zinc-lozenges-cold-remedy. Accessed July 17, 2014.
  2. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Available at http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/. Accessed July 16, 2014.
  3. Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;(2):CD001364
  4. About the Common Cold. Zicam®https://www.zicam.com/faqs/about-the-common-cold/.Accessed March 16, 2020

 

*Clinical results have been shown for Zicam® Cold Remedy RapidMelts®, ULTRA RapidMelts®, ULTRA Crystals, Medicated Fruit Drops, Lozenges, Oral Mist, Nasal Spray and Nasal Swabs.

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