Taking Zinc Supplements May Relieve Cold And Flu Symptoms, New Study Reveals.

Taking Zinc Supplements May Relieve Cold And Flu Symptoms, New Study Reveals.
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Zinc supplementation may help prevent cold and flu symptoms or even stave them off completely regardless of whether a person has a zinc deficiency.1, according to a new research.

The research, published in British Medical Journal’s open-access publication, BMJ Open, said that zinc can help fight common symptoms of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) like congestion, coughing and a sore throat as well as shorten the length of the illness.

Researchers also suggested that general practitioners could start prescribing zinc to patients demanding antibiotic prescriptions, to reduce antimicrobial resistance.

“It is commonly thought that zinc’s role in preventing and treating infections is only for people who are zinc deficient; our findings really challenge this notion,” says integrative medicine doctor Jennifer Hunter from Western Sydney University in Australia.

“The two large trials from China found very low dose zinc nasal spray reduced the risk of clinical illness. The two smaller trials in the US that evaluated the preventive effects of oral zinc excluded people who were zinc deficient.

“All the other trials that evaluated zinc for treating the common cold were in populations where zinc deficiency is very unlikely.”

The research looked at 28 clinical trials involving 5,446 adults and in the studies that the researchers evaluated, the most common zinc formulations were lozenges followed by nasal sprays and gels containing either zinc acetate or gluconate salts. The daily dose of zinc that was used in the studies included:

  • Oral zinc: 15 milligrams (mg) or 45 mg for 7 or 12 months, respectively.
  • Sublingual lozenge: between 45 mg and 300 mg daily for up to 2 weeks.
  • Topical nasal zinc: 0.9 to 2.6 mg per day.

When zinc was taken as a preventative measure, the analysis found there was a 28 percent lower risk of developing milder symptoms, and an 87 percent lower risk of developing moderately severe symptoms.

And when it was taken as a treatment after getting ill, zinc was also found to slightly reduce the time symptoms stuck around for. Usually, taking zinc reduced the worst symptoms by around two days.

The study also added that about 19% of adults were likely to continue to have cold and flu symptoms seven days after the illness started if they didn’t take zinc.

Researchers said that zinc was “a viable ‘natural’ alternative” for managing respiratory illnesses at home but also said that some doses from the studies were “unclear”.

“The marginal benefits, strain specificity, drug resistance and potential risks of other over-the-counter and prescription medications makes zinc a viable ‘natural’ alternative,” the researchers said.

Some dosages of zinc can, however, come with non-serious side effects, like nausea or, as is common with using too much zinc nasal spray, a loss of smell. And overall, we still don’t even know what’s the best way to take zinc, either.

“Clinicians and consumers need to be aware that considerable uncertainty remains regarding the clinical efficacy of different zinc formulations, doses and administration routes,” says Hunter.

“At the moment there just isn’t enough research to say whether a zinc nasal spray, versus a nasal gel, versus a lozenge, versus oral zinc is any better or worse than the others. Most of the trials used zinc gluconate or zinc acetate formulations, but that doesn’t mean that other zinc compounds are less effective.”

Elizabeth Barnes, a registered dietitian at Weight Neutral Wellness, tells Verywell that “ too much zinc can prevent you from absorbing iron.” She recommends that people do not take an iron supplement at the same time as a zinc supplement.

For people who are wanting to pursue zinc supplementation, Hunter says that it’s important to see “an appropriately trained healthcare professional who can assess your zinc status, recommend a zinc formulation if it is indicated, and then monitor your progress.”

Ultimately, Hunter says that “everybody should focus on optimizing their zinc intake from food and look at ways to improve zinc absorption.”

Foods high in zinc include meat, shellfish, dairy products like cheese, bread and some wheat-based cereal products.

The review looked at studies which were published in 17 English and Chinese research databases dating up to August 2020, and noted that none of the trials looked at the use of zinc as prevention against Covid-19.

Moses Aine

Reporter, The Postdale Daily

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