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Zinc Lozenges Can Reduce Severity of a Cold


The common cold – wouldn’t it be great if you could take an over-the-counter treatment that would reduce the number of days and severity of your suffering? New research shows that zinc can keep the cold virus from replicating – which can reduce the time you suffer by almost 50 percent.


“The catch is that you must begin the zinc treatment as soon as symptoms appear and you must take a dose of at least 13.3 milligrams up to eight times daily for the first couple of days,” said Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition/Health Specialist with University of Missouri Extension.


Zinc is best taken as a throat lozenge or nasal gel.


“These mediums allow the zinc to come into full contact with the back of the throat allowing the zinc to reduce the cold virus replication,” she said.


Shopping tips:

  • Make sure the supplement is made from zinc gluconate or zinc acetate.
  • Avoid flavorings made from citric acid and tartaric acid – these interfere with zinc’s antiviral action.
  • The safe upper limit intake is 40 milligrams daily – this is why most zinc supplements recommend only using up to three lonzeges (39.9 milligrams) per day. Using the larger dose (106 milligrams) daily as indicated by research is considered safe for a couple of days. Only continue such a high dose for longer if your care provider has prescribed this level.
  • There can be side effects with short-term, high doses of zinc: stomach upset, unpleasant taste in mouth, interference with copper absorption and impaired absorption of some antibiotics. Long-term dosages of 100 or more milligrams daily may lower levels of good cholesterol, suppress immune function and increase the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Zinc nasal gels may cause temporary or permanent loss of smell. Some people also experience pain in the nose immediately after use.


For more information contact your local MU Exension Center or Susan Mills-Gray at




Last Updated 05/05/2009


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