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Few minerals out there do as much for our body as zinc. It is required, in small doses, for a slew of bodily functions. Aside from that, it is useful in the realm of natural supplements and is often the subject of health advice regarding the common cold. A new study has supported the idea in alternative medicine that zinc lozenges can battle a cold.

Depending on the total dosage of zinc and the composition of lozenges, zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, says the new study. For treating the common cold, zinc lozenges are dissolved slowly in the mouth. The mineral, which contains antiviral and antibacterial properties, leaks down into the throat to battle the cold virus that has taken hold.

Interest in zinc lozenges started in the early 1980s from the observation that the cold of a young girl with leukemia rapidly disappeared when she dissolved a therapeutic zinc tablet in her mouth instead of swallowing it. Since then, more than a dozen studies have tried to ascertain whether zinc lozenges are effective, but the results of those studies have diverged.

The new study is a meta-analysis of all the placebo-controlled trials that have looked at the effect of these lozenges on common cold infections. Of the 13 trial comparisons identified, five used a total daily zinc dose of less than 75 milligrams. None found zinc to be helpful against a cold.

But, three studies used zinc acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg. Here, the average indication was a 42% reduction in the duration of colds. Five more trials used zinc salts other than acetate in daily doses of over 75 mg, with the average indicating a 20% decrease in the duration of colds.

In several studies, zinc lozenges caused adverse effects, such as bad taste, but there is no evidence that zinc lozenges might cause long-term harm. In the most recent study, which used the high dose of 92 mg, the researchers found no difference in side effects between it and placebo.

This is another solid affirmation for zinc lozenges. If you catch a cold, give these a shot and see if your cold dissipates more quickly than it tends to normally. You can find them in any pharmacy.

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