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Do zinc lozenges and tablets ease cold symptoms?

The National Institutes of Health has no conclusive evidence that ingesting more than the recommended 8 to 11 mg of zinc daily reduces a cold's duration or severity. Natural sources of zinc include chicken, shellfish, beef, pork, baked beans, cashews and zinc-fortified breakfast cereals.

While some studies have found that zinc lozenges can ease cold symptoms, others have not, so the jury is still out. But even if sucking on zinc doesn't relieve sniffles and sneezes, doing so may at least shorten the amount of time you have to deal with them. A review of several studies found that zinc lozenges in doses of 70 milligrams or more can shorten a cold as long you start taking them within 24 hours of your first symptoms. As for zinc tablets, no research has found that they're effective.

Don't use forms of zinc such as sprays, creams or gels that are applied to the lining of the nose. They can cause anosmia, or loss of the sense of smell.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.