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What kind of zinc should I take to treat a cold?

Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine
To reduce the duration of a cold, you should take zinc lozenges containing ionic zinc. The vast majority of zinc products do not have this type of zinc. Taking zinc supplements in pill form doesn't work either, so don't be fooled into swallowing yet another pill.

The medical literature about whether zinc lozenges can significantly reduce the duration of the common cold is conflicting, with roughly half of the studies showing benefit, and half appearing equal to placebo, but it turns out ionic zinc may be the key ingredient.

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that intranasal zinc preparations had the potential to cause permanent loss of smell, so they are no longer recommended.

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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.