The Common Cold Remedies Zinc

More and more people are looking at natural cold remedies to help prevent the common cold. One of these cold remedies is zinc.

Zinc is an important mineral that is necessary for your body’s overall health. Zinc helps your immune system operate and affects your taste and smell senses.

Zinc and Food Sources

Zinc is available naturally in many foods, including:

  • beef
  • peas
  • pecans
  • pork
  • poultry
  • yogurt.

In addition, many breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc.

Zinc: Preventing and Avoiding the Cold

Is zinc effective at preventing the cold? While many people tout zinc’s effectiveness as a cold remedy, the jury is still out on how well zinc performs.

Studies indicate that zinc may have an effect on the length that a person has a cold as well as on the severity of cold symptoms. You should take zinc lozenges within 24 hours of a cold’s start to reap any possible benefits. Keep in mind, however, that test results are mixed, so zinc may or may not help you.

In addition, experts suggest that you avoid taking zinc lozenges on a continual basis as a way of avoiding the common cold.

Zinc Lozenges

Zinc lozenges are available in two forms: zinc acetate and zinc gluconate. More studies have been conducted on zinc gluconate than zinc acetate. While some suspect that zinc acetate may be more effective on colds, many experts suggest taking zinc gluconate simply because experts know more about zinc gloconate and its effects.

If you are planning on taking zinc lozenges, make sure that you read the package’s instructions and follow them. In general, if the lozenge contains 13.3 mg of zinc, take one zinc lozenge every two to four hours when you are awake. Experts suggest that you do not take more than six to 12 lozenges a day.

Zinc Side Effects

Taking zinc can affect your body adversely. Some of the side effects of taking zinc lozenges can include nausea and a bad taste in your mouth. Other side effects might include:

  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • vomiting.

Taking large amounts of zinc over an extended period of time can affect your body’s ability to use other minerals, which can contribute to a number of health problems. In addition, zinc toxicity can negatively affect your immune system and your levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the so-called “good” cholesterol.

Taking zinc lozenges to help reduce common cold symptoms is not for everyone. Children should not take zinc, as no studies have been conducted on how zinc affects children. Also, pregnant women should consult their physicians before taking zinc or any other type of supplement. People with kidney or liver diseases should also avoid zinc.

In general, it is always wise to discuss any cold remedy with your doctor. In addition, if your cold persists, make sure that you consult your doctor to make sure your cold isn’t something more serious and to ensure you don’t have a secondary infection.


CNN. (1997) Should You Take Zinc for Colds? Retrieved November 25, 2007, from the CNN Web site:

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.) Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Can’t Hurt. Retrieved November 25, 2007, from the MayoClinic Web site:

Medical College of Wisconsin. (2000) Zinc and Cold Symptoms. Retrieved November 25, 2007, from the HealthLink Web site: