Feeling a case of sneezes and sniffles coming on? You might be able to curtail your convalescence: There's some evidence that zinc can help reduce the duration of colds or lessen the symptoms.
Zinc lozenges became a popular cold remedy when a 1996 report published by the Cleveland Clinic said that zinc could help reduce a cold's impact by reducing its severity and duration. A study of 100 people who had cold systems for less than 24 hours took zinc lozenges every two hours; half took a placebo. The zinc users reported that their cold symptoms lasted an average of 4.4 days, compared with 7.6 days for those who used the placebo. Some scientists, however, believe that zinc's effectiveness may be exaggerated somewhat [source: Gawande].
How does zinc work to stop colds in their tracks? The mineral gets into parts of the body where the cold virus attacks, making symptoms less severe.
So if your throat feels scratchy, reaching for a zinc lozenge may help you get back to your healthy self more quickly, without being sidelined from the big game or a major presentation.