11 March 2011
The systematic review, carried out by researchers at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in India, analysed the results of 15 randomised-controlled trials of zinc supplements involving over 1,300 people.
The results, published in The Cochrane Library, showed that consumption of zinc syrup, tablets or lozenges reduced the severity and length of colds by almost 1 day compared to control groups, if taken within a day of the onset of cold symptoms. Participants taking zinc also experienced less severe symptoms. Children who took zinc supplements regularly for at least 5 months were found to have fewer colds and reduced absence from school, plus were less likely to be prescribed less antibiotics.
Study author Meenu Singh commented on the findings: "This review strengthens the evidence for zinc as a treatment for the common cold - however, 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." Further work was recommended to now focus on specific populations.
Singh, M., Das, R (2011). Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 2. Retrieved from: http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/details/file/1017735/CD001364.html
Yahoo Health (2011). Zinc supplements reduce symptoms of common cold. Retrieved from: http://uk.health.lifestyle.yahoo.net/zinc-supplements-linked-to-reduction-in-cold-symptoms.htm
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