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Does Zinc And Vitamin C Help With Colds

Vitamin C And Zinc For Covid

Can Vitamin C and Zinc Help Cure Colds?

Currently, there are ongoing clinical trials in the U.S. and China that are looking into the role of IV vitamin C in reducing the risk of respiratory failure and mechanical ventilation in COVID-19 patients.

There is evidence that being deficient in zinc may reduce the bodys production of antibodies, theoretically making it difficult to fight off COVID-19. And one study found that critically ill patientsnot those with COVID-19who were given high doses of vitamin C had a shorter length of time on a ventilator and were hospitalized for shorter periods of time than those who did not take the vitamin.

But despite some research suggesting that theres a potential for zinc and vitamin C to help fight COVID-19, experts point out thats not the same as a real connection. I am not surprised by the findings because the effects of these supplements on other viral infections is pretty minimal, Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Verywell.

Jamie Alan, RPH, PharmD, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, agrees. The data regarding zinc and vitamin C for treatment of viral disease has never been very convincing, she tells Verywell.

Zinc May Help Shorten A Cold But Won’t Help With Symptoms

There is some evidence that sucking on zinc lozenges within 24 hours of first feeling cold symptoms may shorten its duration by a day or two, but theres little to indicate that it eases cold symptoms, such as congestion, cough, or muscle aches.

A 2017 analysis published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases of three previous studies found that people who took 80 to 92 mg per day of zinc got better faster. By the fifth day, 70 percent of those taking zinc had recovered, compared with just 27 percent of those given a placebo.

A 2020 analysis published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene reported similar reductions in duration but found conflicting evidence on whether zinc supplements had an effect on the severity of cold symptoms. In other words, you may be stuffed up and sniffling for fewer days, but on the days youre sick youre likely to feel just as lousy.

Never Take Vitamin C And Zinc Together Public Health Expert Explains Why

If you take vitamin C and zinc mineral supplements together, stop this practice! Here is why you should not take them together.

Vitamin C and zinc are two very important nutrients that one needs to take during this pandemic situation. Doctors recommend that you must consume foods rich in vitamin C and zinc to boost your immune system. If you are unable to get it through your diet, take supplements. But do you know that some supplements shouldnt be taken together? A lot of you might be taking zinc and vitamin C supplements together but in this article, we will tell you why this is a deadly combination.

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Can Vitamin C Shorten A Cold

Vitamin C, Zinc, Echinacea May Help

Oct. 2, 2002 — There is still no cure for the common cold, but as the season of sniffles and sneezes approaches are there any proven remedies to lessen the misery they bring? Do megadoses of vitamin C really help? How about echinacea and zinc?

Americans spend billions on the supplements each year, and while some studies have shown them to be effective for reducing the length or severity of colds, the evidence remains inconclusive.

It has been three decades since Nobel-prize winning chemist Linus Pauling told the world that megadoses of vitamin C prevented colds and lessened their severity. The latest study to weigh in on the issue found that people who took a patented form of vitamin C, known as Ester C, during cold season had fewer colds and less severe symptoms than those who took placebos.

There were 37 colds among the 84 study participants who took vitamin C, compared to 50 colds among an equal number of participants who took a placebo. The study was published last spring in the journal Advances in Therapy.

The findings contradict most studies conducted since Pauling published the book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1997, Stephen Lawson of The Linus Pauling Institute tells WebMD. These studies did not find, as Pauling originally claimed, that vitamin C prevents colds from occurring.

People with colds need to take 1,000 or 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day to gain a therapeutic effect, Lawson says.

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What About High Dosages

Vitamin C 1000mg w/ Rose Hips, Zinc, Echinacea Supplement ...

Vitamin C is found naturally in foods like oranges, bell peppers, and strawberries, and it certainly wont do us any harm. But what about the massive doses found in vitamin C supplements and products like Airborne and Emergen-C?

A tablet of Airborne, for instance, contains 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C along with zinc, vitamins A and E, selenium, and a blend of herbs including ginger and echinacea.

Emergen-C also contains 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and recommends users take it up to two times daily. Each serving also includes B vitamins, zinc, and electrolytes, which is why it claims to enhance energy .

While neither of them outright say that they can prevent or cure colds, the mega doses of vitamin C are generally the reason many cold-sufferers sniffle their way to the supplement aisle.

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Vitamin D And Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters Involved During An Episode Of Common Colds

This research has been carried out based on the following keywords: vitamin D OR vitamin D supplementation AND immune response AND innate immunity AND adaptive immunity AND respiratory tract infections AND common cold AND immunodeficiency.

shows the study selection process.

summarizes the studies presented in the narrative review.

This Is How Zinc Can Help You During A Cold

Zinc is effective in fighting colds because it prevents the adherence of cold viruses to the host’s cells in the nasal mucosa it simply drives them out due to the fact that it occupies their docking location. Additionally, it inhibits the growth and stops the reproduction of these germs. Finally, zinc helps to alleviate the possible inflammation reactions caused by a cold because it prevents the release of histamine and stops the prostaglandin metabolism. Thus, the nasal mucosa does not swell as much, allowing the person to breathe easier. Owing to these findings, zinc should be taken in the form of a lozenge or gurgled as solution from an effervescent tablet before being swallowed. Although many complain of the taste, this is the only way that zinc can have a direct effect on the mucous membranes, fighting the viruses where they are instead of having to take the detour through the digestive tract.

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Can Vitamin C Cure A Cold

The idea originally came from Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling in the 1970s. Pauling reported that there was strong evidence that vitamin C decreased the incidence of colds. However, his optimistic analysis was based mostly on a small and short randomised study on school children in a skiing school in the Swiss Alps, which reported a significant reduction in the incidence and duration of colds. It wasnt a good enough basis to drawn such strong conclusions, but Paulings authority made people listen.

You often hear it if youre feeling like youre getting a cold, dose up on vitamin C. But is there any evidence that it works?

So, whats the real evidence?

Firstly, what about daily vitamin C stopping you getting a cold? Well, in 2013 a review of a lot of different trials and concluded that daily vitamin C had no effect on common cold incidence in the ordinary population, based on 29 trial comparisons involving 11,306 participants.

So, can daily doses make colds less bad when you do get one? The 2013 analysis reported that based on 31 study comparisons with 9745 common cold episodes, regular supplementation had a modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms. Regular supplementation trials found that 0.2 g/day or more reduced common cold duration modestly by 8% in adults and by 14% in children and 1 to 2 g/d of vitamin C in children reduced common cold duration by 18%. Its not much!

Why Trust Verywell Health

Gravitas | Study: Zinc, Vitamin C won’t help fight Wuhan Virus

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am careful to recommend supplements, including zinc. I spent time reviewing the most current recommendations on zinc supplementation, and I looked at multiple brands and products. I believe the supplements in the round-up are made by trusted brands that are devoted to product purity and are composed of high-quality ingredients.Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Leah Groth, a freelance Health writer, also contributed to this article.

Recommended Reading: Is 500mg Of Vitamin C Too Much For A Child

Taking Zinc Can Make You Feel Sick

Dont go popping zinc supplements every day thinking you’re reinforcing your immune system. The amount of zinc you need daily is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. And the Institute of Medicine has set the tolerable upper intake level at 40 mg for adults. Studies looking at zincs potential to help shorten or reduce the intensity of colds or other respiratory illnesses have involved daily doses of up to 100 mg, but just for the duration of the illness. If youre taking zinc on an ongoing basis, going over the upper limit can cause health problems, including nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and low copper levels, Haggans says. Zinc supplements and lozenges can also leave a metallic taste in your mouth, Thomas says.

Nasal sprays containing zinc were popular cold remedies until the FDA warned that using them could cause you to lose your sense of smell. As a result, most nasal sprays have either been reformulated without zinc or taken off the market. Theres no evidence that zinc pills or lozenges cause this side effect, though.

Will Vitamin C And Zinc Help Your Covid Symptoms

Dr. Milind Desai describes the results of a study performed during this COVID pandemic, looking at patients with symptoms of COVID who were not sick enough to be in the hospital. The question he answered was: Does vitamin C and/or zinc reduce the duration or severity of symptoms in patients diagnosed with coronavirus disease 2019 ?

Read about this study at

Will Vitamin C and Zinc help your COVID symptoms?

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Supplements With Moderate Evidence

The evidence regarding the benefits of , , and is often mixed, but it suggests a positive effect.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is marketed as the go-to supplement for preventing and treating colds.

Mechanistically, it makes sense: vitamin C helps immune cells form and function, and it supports the physical barriers that protect you from pathogens. Moreover, at least 148 animal studies have found that vitamin C administration helps prevent infections caused by microorganisms.

Those animal studies, however, dont answer the question that most matters to us: can vitamin C supplementation help humans ward off colds? A 2013 Cochrane meta-analysis of human studies tried to answer this question, and here are the takeaways:

  • People who start taking vitamin C when they already have a cold dont appear to see much of a benefit. Some studies suggest that very high doses might reduce the duration of colds, but more studies are needed for confirmation.

  • People who take vitamin C regularly can expect shorter colds with slightly less severe symptoms.

  • Athletes who take vitamin C regularly are half as likely to catch a cold as athletes who dont. Only people who perform regular or acute bouts of intense exercise seem to enjoy this benefit.

A 2018 meta-analysis also supports the idea that vitamin C can shorten colds and lessen symptoms. It included only 9 trials, however, all of which were among the 29 trials included in the 2013 Cochrane meta-analysis.

Vitamin D


Zinc For The Common Cold Not For Me


ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Media channels are atwitter with the news that zinc can beat the common cold. CBS News, the L.A. Times, the Huffington Post, and hundreds of others are treating a quiet research report as big news that will have a life-changing effect. After reading the report and doing a little digging into the dark side of zinc, Im not rushing out to stock up on zinc lozenges or syrup.

The latest hubbub about zinc was sparked by a report from the Cochrane Collaboration. This global network of scientists, patients, and others evaluates the evidence on hundreds of different treatments. In the latest review, on zinc for the common cold, researchers Meenu Singh and Rashmi R. Das pooled the results of 13 studies that tested zinc for treating colds. By their analysis, taking zinc within 24 hours of first noticing the signs of a cold could shorten the cold by one day. They also found that taking zinc made colds a bit less severe.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

At the first sign of a cold, Im headed to the kitchen to make chicken noodle soup.

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Zinc: A Newfound Defense

Zinc was recently the subject of a much-publicized report in the Annals of Internal Medicine showing that it effectively can reduce cold symptoms, including coughs, headaches, hoarseness, muscle aches, nasal drainage, nasal congestion, scratchy throats, sore throats, sneezing, and fevers.

Zinc is present throughout our bodies from our hair to our bones and is responsible for many biological processes. Researchers believe that its ability to lessen the impact of colds most likely comes from its role in the immune system, where white blood cells use it to produce antibodies that fight off invading pathogens.

The U.S. government recommends that zinc be taken in doses ranging from 12 to 20 mg, depending on an individuals height, weight, and gender. The average daily amount of zinc in Western diets is only 10 mg, and many Americans suffer from zinc deficiencies caused by smoking, alcoholism, and diets low in zinc-rich foods such as fish, whole grains, seeds, and soybeans.

A zinc deficiency weakens the immune system, impairing its ability to effectively ward off disease. Sensenig says that more Americans are deficient in zinc than in calcium, and this deficiency may be why zinc supplements appear to be so effective in treating colds and flu: When the immune system is refueled with the necessary levels of zinc, it can more effectively fend off the germs, bacteria, and viruses that make us ill.

Sorting Out Supplements For The Common Cold

Cathleen Murphy, DC, MSAssociate Dean, Health Sciences ProgramsSt. Johns University, College of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New York

Associate Dean for Student AffairsAssociate Clinical ProfessorSt. Johns University, College of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New York

Emily M. Ambizas, PharmD, MPH, CGPAssociate Clinical ProfessorSt. Johns University, College of Pharmacy & Health SciencesQueens, New YorkClinical Specialist, Rite Aid PharmacyWhitestone, New York

US Pharm. 2017 41:8-10.

The common cold is the leading cause of missed work and school days during the winter months. Although there is no known cure, many patients seek nonprescription medications for symptom relief, spending over $8 billion on cough and cold products in 2016.4 In addition to the various nonprescription medications available, many vitamins, supplements, and herbal preparations are promoted for the prevention and treatment of the common cold. The use of complementary and alternative medicine is gaining popularity for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including a head or chest coldone of the top 10 conditions.5 Because there are a multitude of products available OTC that are advertised for the prevention and treatment of the common cold, pharmacists frequently receive questions about the safety and effectiveness of these remedies.

Read Also: What Foods Are High In Zinc And Vitamin C

Is Vitamin C Safe To Take

In general, vitamin C won’t harm you if you get it by eating food like fruits and veggies. For most people, it’s also OK if you take supplements in the recommended amount.

The RDA, or recommended daily allowance, is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. High doses of vitamin C may cause kidney stones, nausea, and diarrhea.

If you’re unsure about taking vitamin C for colds, talk to your health care provider.

Zinc For Reducing Cold Durations

Do vitamin C, zinc tablets help with Covid? Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar answers

Zinc is another popular option that many people recommend when trying to shorten the duration of a cold. While the mineral cant prevent colds, evidence supports the claim that zinc shortens colds. According to one study, colds were shortened by 30-40% in people who took zinc lozenges. However, people thinking about adding zinc to their cold recovery plan should look for supplements or lozenges that contain at least 80-100mg of zinc. And for best results, try to take zinc within the first 24 hours of experiencing cold symptoms.

Recommended Reading: Why Should I Take Vitamin C

Q: Will Vitamin C Or Zinc Immune Boosters Really Help My Cold

A: Many products are marketed to prevent and treat colds and other viral upper respiratory infections. These range from plain vitamin C to fancier powders you can mix with water and drink. Unfortunately, evidence that these products show actual benefits is lacking.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

Vitamin C is an important nutrient. Yet studies evaluating its effectiveness during acute illness show, at best, an 8% speedier recovery meaning youll feel better 13 hours sooner during a typical seven-day illness. At worst, the studies demonstrate no benefit at all.

Some cold and flu prevention products contain zinc. While an old study on its use in treating colds was promising, the results were questioned because a zinc product manufacturer funded the research.

No studies on zinc have since shown any benefit. Whats more, toxicity from taking high amounts of zinc is a definite risk.

Its hard to know whether taking these cold products might produce a placebo effect or if any perceived benefit is due to hydration and electrolyte replacement.

So while taking vitamins when youre sick probably wont hurt you, the best medicine still seems to be time, fluids and rest.

Family medicine physician Donald Ford, MD


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