As summer ends, you may notice more sniffling and sneezing everywhere you go. That’s right — cold season is just about to get underway.
And if the proverbial walls are closing in around you, you might be searching for the best way to prevent — or shorten — the miserable effects of the common cold.
So the results of the study I want to share today couldn’t have come at a better time.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki split a pool of nearly 200 patients with common colds into three different groups to assess the effects of zinc supplementation on cold duration.
The subjects were all female, most between the ages of 20 and 50. And treatment groups all received zinc lozenges containing dosages above 75 mg.
Meta-analysis of the results showed that zinc reduced the duration of colds by three whole days — cutting normal cold duration (which is usually about seven days) nearly in half.
Of course, this isn’t the first study to prove zinc’s immune benefits. Far from it. But zinc isn’t just good for fighting colds…
Head-to-toe health with zinc
A recent review of nearly 300 different zinc studies found that this simple mineral can help keep us healthy literally head to toe.
Specifically, the researchers concluded that zinc affects the following:
Brain. One study found that people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease have lower blood zinc levels. And zinc was found to act as an antidepressant in rats.
Cardiovascular system. Zinc can significantly help regulate blood pressure in our arteries.
Obesity. Researchers have found that obese people have lower blood zinc levels.
Diabetes. Studies have found that zinc is a very important factor in insulin synthesis, storage, and secretion. Of course, this is a key risk factor for diabetes, and other research bears that out. One study found that diabetics with associated diseases like coronary artery disease have low blood zinc levels.
Cancer. Zinc has been found to inhibit tumor growth, especially in the prostate.
Liver. Zinc deficiency may be a factor not only in liver cirrhosis, but also fatty liver disease. As I wrote in the August 13, 2014 Reality Health Check (“The supplement that could reverse the latest Western health crisis”) the non-alcoholic version of this disease is quickly becoming the scourge of Western society—affecting nearly a third of all people.
Wounds. Because it boosts the immune system, research shows zinc can help speed up wound healing.
Zinc also helps fight inflammation, which, as you know, is the underlying cause of just about every chronic disease there is.
Now for the bad news: Chances are, you’re not getting enough of this life-saving mineral.
The life-threatening deficiency affecting nearly half of U.S. seniors
About 40 percent of people in the U.S. over the age of 65 aren’t getting enough zinc. Older adults tend to eat fewer zinc-rich foods. Mostly because their doctors have told them NOT to.
You see, some of the best sources of zinc are protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, and shellfish. And mainstream nutrition “experts” have been warning people for decades to limit the consumption of these foods because they contain cholesterol. (A notion that will hopefully be going the way of the dinosaur soon.)
Combine this dietary shortfall with the fact that your ability to absorb zinc decreases with age, and it’s no wonder zinc deficiency is a particularly insidious problem among the over-60 set.
Unfortunately, conventional doctors are notorious for ignoring zinc’s importance. So you may have to insist that your healthcare provider give you a test to determine if you’re one of the many people who are zinc deficient.
The test is called an RBC mineral screening, and it measures the levels of zinc, magnesium, potassium, chromium, copper, manganese, and calcium you have in your blood. You’ll want your results to be in the “upper normal” range.
If you find your zinc levels are low, you can boost your consumption in two simple ways.
First of all, make sure you add foods high in zinc to your daily diet.
And because our bodies don’t store this essential mineral very efficiently, I urge you to take zinc supplements as well. I recommend at least 30 mg of zinc per day.
But when your next cold strikes, don’t think twice about taking things up a notch. As the study I mentioned above shows, dosages up to 100 mg per day are a safe way to deal with symptoms in very short order.
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