5 Benefits of Zinc When Fighting a Cold

Though the evidence is inconclusive, there's some thought that taking zinc at the first sign of a cold can help speed your recovery. See more pictures of staying healthy.

Sometimes, from the number of people coughing and sneezing around you at work or school -- like zombies threatening to spread their germs your way -- you might think no one actually stays home when they have a cold. However, that isn't the case. Colds are actually the top reason why people call out from work or school [source: National Institutes of Health].

So what is this evil illness that is keeping us home? Well, we're not looking at just one culprit. We're looking at 200. That's the number of viruses out there that can cause a cold and its symptoms. Likely, you are well-acquainted with those manifestations from past experiences. We've all had the sneezing, coughing, sore throat and aches from the common cold [source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].

And based on these symptoms, it's no wonder folks will do everything they can to stop sickness in its tracks. Not all remedies are equal, though -- and some are more controversial than others.

Zinc is one of those treatments up for debate. This mineral, which is a natural element in several foods and is essential to our health, is used as a main ingredient in many cold remedies. But is zinc an effective treatment in beating those common-cold zombies out there? Read on to learn five ways zinc may be on our side when it comes to colds.