It's cold season and if you haven't caught a cold yet, you might very soon. As you may know, zinc is a very popular treatment for the common cold. But some of the information you've heard about zinc might be inaccurate. So let's look at some of the most common myths about zinc and the common cold.
Myth #1: Zinc helps treat — not prevent — a cold
We've known for some time that taking zinc within 24 hours of the first symptoms helps shorten your cold. The authors of the 2013 Cochrane review say you'll experience the most significant effects if you take at least 75 mg (that's five lozenges) per day. And they say to take the lozenges as long as your cold lasts. But some people say taking zinc as a preventive doesn't work. However, according to WebMD: "An analysis of two combined studies, representing more than 1,500 people, found about 40% fewer colds in those who were taking zinc supplements to prevent colds compared to those taking a placebo." So if you want to avoid a cold, make sure you're taking at least 15 mg daily. Then boost the dose to 75 mg daily if you do feel symptoms coming on.
Myth #2: Pick a spray, not a lozenge
Some people insist that zinc sprays are better than lozenges. However, back in 2009, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration put out a warning against using zinc nasal sprays and swabs. They had received more than 130 reports of people losing their sense of smell after using these products. Fortunately, the manufacturer pulled the products from store shelves. There are still oral sprays available. And there's no evidence that these will cause you to lose your sense of smell. But why take a chance? Tod Cooperman, MD, president of the independent testing group ConsumerLab.com, explains the risk, "If you spray it into your throat it can still go up your nose." Sucking on lozenges is proven to be extremely effective and completely safe.
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Myth #3: You have to take copper when you take zinc
You've probably heard that if you take zinc supplements, you have to take copper as well. The reason? Zinc and copper compete for some very important antioxidant enzyme systems. Taking too much zinc without taking copper will cause an imbalance in these enzymes. This can result in excessive free-radical damage. But researchers tested this on healthy six- to eight-year-old boys in Ontario, Canada. Ten of the boys took 5 mg of zinc per day. Nine took 10 mg. Eight took 15 mg. And 10 of them took a placebo tablet. After four months, the researchers tested their copper levels to see if the zinc caused problems. They tested for copper levels, plasma copper, and ceruloplasmin activity. But they also tested the function of superoxide dismutase. This is a critically important copper-dependent antioxidant enzyme. The researchers didn't find any changes in any of the copper evaluations from the zinc supplements. That means you can easily take up to 15 mg of zinc per day without worrying about your copper levels.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating with loved ones. As you celebrate, remember the reason for the season from this Christmas carol:
Myth #4: All lozenges are created equal
The bad news about zinc is that you can't just go to your local drugstore and buy the most effective form. That's because the best form of zinc to fight the common cold is zinc acetate. And you can't find this form in stores. The only place you can find zinc acetate is from Advanced Bionutritionals. Their Advanced Zinc Lozenges have 15 mg of zinc acetate, giving you everything you need to fight any colds you might have this winter. You can take this amount as a preventive. Then, if you still develop symptoms, you can take 75 mg daily until the symptoms are gone.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND