Should you take zinc to prevent a cold?

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Flu season is peaking in Northeast Kansas and so is the common cold.  To prevent yourself from getting sick, taking zinc may seem like a no-brainer to boost your immune system.  But is that really what’s best for you?

“Taking zinc everyday as a supplement probably isn’t the best approach for reducing the frequency of colds. The evidence for using It to prophylac or prevent colds is not very strong,” explains Stormont Vail Resident Pharmacist Chris Smith.

Although he doesn’t suggest using it daily for prevention, Chris does recommend taking it when symptoms first start.

“Zinc has some evidence of shortening cold symptoms if It is taken within the first 48 hours of cold symptoms.  It can shorten the duration of the cold symptoms for maybe one or two days.  And the common cold is typically 10 days for most people,” says Smith.

You can find Zinc, over the counter in several forms at your local pharmacy.

Smith says,  “It can be just in a pill that you swallow immediately. That would be used for a zinc deficiency after talking with your doctor. But things for the common cold, popular products are lozenges and oral liquid.
The most popular product for the common cold is Zicam like products. And they are lozenges so they are things you dissolve in your mouth.”

Pharmacists say, Zinc supplements are for people with Zinc deficiencies, and you should see your doctor before using.

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