Found naturally in foods from meats to nuts, zinc is the second most abundant metal in the body (after iron). And not only is zinc essential for our bodies to function properly, it may also help kick a cold fast .
Zap It With Zinc — Why It Matters
Here’s the deal: The common cold is usually caused by a virus, meaning no number of antibiotics can beat it. A cold can be caused by more than 100 different bugs, but the rhinovirus is the most common. Best of all, it’s highly contagious and can be spread through the air or by hand-to-hand contact (so wash up)! The sickly symptoms can appear just about anywhere in the head and chest, including sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, congestion, or just all around aches and fatigue.
But there is some good news. Studies (and over 30 years of research!) have shown zinc may be the answer to getting over colds faster    . A review of relevant studies found taking zinc supplements within 24 hours of first experiencing cold symptoms reduced both the severity and duration of the cold . Plus, taking zinc supplements over a longer period of time reduced the number of colds and missed school days for kids (sucks for them!) .
Cold Shoulder — The Answer/Debate
While all signs seem to point to yes, we do still have our reservations about this cold-zapper. While research shows zinc lozenges can be effective, the same benefits may not carry over to zinc sprays and other types of supplements, or to the zinc naturally found in food . While the daily recommended value of zinc is only 12 to 15 mg, one study suggests it may take upwards of 75mg in lozenge form to have any effect on colds .
One way not to get a zinc fix, though, is through the nose— The FDA warns such nasal sprays could cause loss of smell! And as much as colds suck, getting over them a little faster probably isn’t worth permanently damaging smell receptors. But we’re not out of the water yet! Even in lozenge form, the side effects can be unfortunate, including nausea or a bad taste in the mouth. Over an extended period of time, it’s safe to consume as much as 40 mg daily, but researchers aren’t sure what the effects of higher dosage would be— though anecdotal evidence suggests they’re less than desirable. For a less intrusive option, focus on getting the recommended daily value of zinc regularly through diet!
Zinc won’t cure a cold altogether, but it could help us get over colds faster.
So is zinc your go-to, too? What do you take to kick a cold quick?