Previous studies on the link between zinc and cold treatment have produced conflicting results, but now a new study has found people taking a zinc supplement recovered from a common cold quicker than those given a ‘dummy’ pill.
The researchers in India found that taking zinc supplements in the form of tablets, lozenges or syrup within a day of the onset of symptoms had little effect, but that the severity and duration of symptoms was reduced.
Those taking zinc were more likely to have fought off the cold within seven days, compared with those who took placebos.
Dr Meenu Singh, from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, who led the study, said the review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold.
But she added: “At the moment, it is still difficult to make a general recommendation, because we do not know very much about the optimum dose, formulation or length of treatment.”
The research, which analysed data involving 1,360 people, is published in The Cochrane Library.
“Our review only looked at zinc supplementation in healthy people,” said Dr Singh. “But it would be interesting to find out whether zinc supplementation could help asthmatics, whose asthma symptoms tend to get worse when they catch a cold.”
Copyright © Press Association 2011