While some zinc lozenges have an unpleasant taste, they offer serious common cold-fighting benefits, according to a meta-analysis of three randomised controlled trials.
The meta-analysis revealed that zinc acetate lozenges may increase the rate of recovery from the dreaded common cold three fold! On the fifth day, 70% of patients who took zinc lozenges had recovered, compared to only 27% of patients who took a placebo.
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Meta-analysis of three trials links zinc acetate lozenges to three-fold increase in the recovery rate from the common cold
Harri Hemilä from the University of Helsinki in Finland and his team of researchers split participants into two groups. One group received 80 to 92 mg of zinc per day, while the other received a placebo. After five days, they discovered that 70% of those in the zinc group had recovered, compared to 27% of those in the placebo group.
They wrote that the effect of zinc acetate lozenges wasn’t modified by age, sex, race, smoking, allergy or baseline common cold
severity. Therefore, the three-fold increase in the recovery rate may be widely applicable.
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Researchers note that participants in the study took higher doses of zinc than the recommended daily intake
Researchers noted that the dosage of zinc that the participants received is substantially higher than the recommended daily zinc intake, which is 11 mg per day for men and 8 mg per day for women.
That said, in certain other controlled studies unrelated to the common cold, researchers have administered zinc in doses of 100 mg to 150 mg per day to patients for months with few side effects. Furthermore, for Wilson’s disease, 150 mg of zinc per day is standard treatment.
Therefore, researchers say it’s very unlikely that 80 mg to 92 mg of zinc per day for two weeks starting just after the onset of early common cold symptoms
will lead to adverse effects in the long run. In their meta-analysis, they observed no serious side effects of taking high doses of zinc.
Lead author reveals that many zinc lozenges in the market won’t necessarily provide common cold-fighting benefits
Although this meta-analysis suggests that properly formulated zinc acetate lozenges can speed up the rate of recovery from the common cold by three-fold, researchers warn that many zinc lozenges on the market are either low in zinc or contain substances that bind zinc ions, such as citric acid.
For this reason, they say their findings shouldn’t be directly extrapolated to the wide variety of zinc lozenges that you’ll find at your local pharmacy.
Hemilä instructs patients to individually test whether zinc lozenges are helpful for them. “Given the strong evidence of efficacy and the low risk of adverse effects, common cold patients may already be encouraged to try zinc acetate lozenges not exceeding 100 mg of elemental zinc per day for treating their colds,” he said.