10 Supplements That Do Not Work as Advertised

Zinc Versus the Common Cold
Some people swear by zinc for colds, and it may help, but scientific studies have been inconclusive. © metrokom/iStock/Thinkstock

If zinc lozenges and supplements are beneficial in waging war against the common cold, it might be because zinc is an antioxidant. It's also an anti-inflammatory, which may ease your cold symptoms. Or it could be that sucking on zinc lozenges may work because zinc is an anti-viral, literally stopping the cold virus from being able to spread in your mouth and throat. Or it may be that zinc doesn't have any scientific evidence to back up any of the anecdotal evidence. Studies are inconclusive, and only about half of those who've tried zinc report the mineral had any positive impact on the length of their cold or on reducing the severity of their cold symptoms [source: Cleveland Clinic].

Not all zinc supplements are created equal; some research indicates those made with zinc acetate or zinc gluconate, rather than with zinc glycinate or zinc citrate, are more likely to reduce the amount of time you suffer your cold symptoms [source: Prasad]. Timing is important, too. Even if you take the right type of zinc, if you're too late you won't have the benefits; if it's going to work, it'll only do so if you start treating your cold within the first 24 hours of your first symptoms.

Not only are zinc supplements an unreliable cold treatment, neither will they make your hair grow. While technically, yes, zinc can be used against hair loss, that's only in cases where your hair loss is due to a zinc deficiency. Treat the deficiency and your hair loss will stop. But if you don't have a zinc deficiency, increasing your zinc intake won't turn your limp locks luxurious.

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