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Think Zinc to Treat Your Next Cold

Winter might be almost over, but colds don't care much about the vernal equinox. A new review of medical research on the mineral zinc shows that stuffy-nosed, sniffing, sneezing and coughing cold sufferers have a better option than tissues, tea and sympathy.

If taken within 24 hours of the onset of a runny nose or sore throat, zinc lozenges, tablets and syrups can cut colds short by an average of one day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms, according to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

And a report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases found zinc lozenges can truncate a cold's duration from seven to four days, and reduce coughing to two days from five.

Most over-the-counter zinc products might not be as effective as those studied by researchers because commercial lozenges and syrups often are made with different formulations of zinc. Additionally, flavors and additives can alter effectiveness.

And while it's not certain how zinc curbs colds, it does appear to have antiviral properties that prevent the cold virus from replicating or attaching to nasal membranes.

What's your panacea? Are you a chicken soup fan, or do you prefer other cold treatments? Let me know here.

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