Taking Zinc for Colds: Is It Really Helpful?

Does Zinc Help With Colds?

Taking zinc for colds has been heavily studied, but does this remedy really work? Zinc is an essential micronutrient. In fact, it’s the second most abundant trace mineral found in the body, just behind iron.

Zinc supplements come in a wide range of forms and are used to treat a variety of health problems, but is zinc a cold remedy? Let's look at what the studies say about taking a zinc supplement for a cold.

As of now, there is no documentation that proves this mineral can prevent the common cold.

While more research is needed, the available zinc cold remedy studies show this mineral may be a great way to counteract the duration and severity of this common ailment.

How Does Zinc Help a Cold?

The common cold is caused by a rhinovirus. It is the most common illness worldwide. It causes a scratchy throat, runny nose and sneezing. In the United States, people suffer from one billion colds every year.

However, the common cold isn’t caused by just one virus, but rather, about two hundred different viruses that all cause the same symptoms. The rhinovirus thrives and continues to multiply in the throat and nasal passages. And, unfortunately, the rhinovirus spreads easily from one person to another. A sick person’s sneeze or cough produces a spray that infiltrates anyone nearby. Additionally, handshakes, high-fives and other bodily contacts with an infected person can spread the illness.

Taking zinc for colds may help in multiple ways. First off, zinc supplements may be able to prevent the rhinovirus from multiplying in the body.

Furthermore, taking zinc for a cold may also prevent the rhinovirus from getting lodged in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. This helps relieve the symptoms caused by a cold.

Research also shows zinc is essential to proper immune function. And, in order to fight off any illness, including the common cold, the immune system must be running at an optimal level.

Zinc and colds are closely connected and it offers a multifaceted solution to combating colds, whether you are taking zinc to shorten a cold or fight the symptoms, research shows zinc is essential.

Zinc Supplements

If you’re planning on taking zinc to boost your immune system, you also have the option to take a supplement in pill or capsule form. 


Taking a zinc supplement may provide other benefits in addition to helping you boosting your immune system. In fact, some people believe zinc supplements can be beneficial for fighting acne, age-related macular degeneration, eating disorders, hyperactivity, depression, diabetes and muscle cramps.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, the daily recommended dose of zinc falls between 8 and 13 mg.


What Are the Side Effects of Too Much Zinc?

For the most part, there are very few side effects of zinc supplementation. It’s considered a safe supplement to take for the majority of healthy adults, and even in some children. One study revealed the most common side effects are nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. This mineral has also been deemed safe for pregnant and nursing women, as long as the recommended dosage is followed.

However, there may be other side effects of taking zinc for a cold if you take too much. Zinc toxicity leads to headaches, abdominal cramps, a loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea.