023: Zinc Definitely Fights Colds, But You’re Probably Using the Wrong Kind
Mastering Nutrition Episode 23
In episode 23, I talk about the use of zinc lozenges to fight colds. While nutritional zinc does support the immune system and your immunity may benefit from zinc supplements or zinc-rich foods, this has nothing to do with the use of zinc lozenges to kill colds. The science behind their use is strong, but it also suggests that most of the dozens of zinc lozenges on the market are absolutely useless. The only ones I currently use and recommend are Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges. Listen in to find out why!
In this episode, you can find all of the following and more:
0:00:38 Cliff Notes
0:06:05 Zinc status is important to immune function, but that’s not what this podcast is about. Nevertheless, I go through basic tips of getting good zinc nutrition.
0:09:58 My typical use of zinc for colds has missed the point.
0:11:14 Zinc has to be a lozenge to kill the common cold. In fact, the original discovery of its role in killing the cold was born from a child refusing to swallow a tablet and letting it dissolve in her mouth.
0:13:25 The main mechanisms by which zinc kills colds.
0:14:20 Importance of zinc ionization in nasal and adenoid tissue.
0:16:38 Importance of taking it at the right time (first couple of days of a cold).
0:20:09 pH of nose and throat tissue, not saliva, is important.
0:21:08 Gluconate and acetate are effective, but acetate is twice as effective as gluconate.
0:22:19 Astringency and metallic taste must be present, but are not sufficient.
0:24:46 Food acids used to cover taste such as citrate or tartrate cannot be present.
0:27:46 Magnesium cannot be present in a form that ionizes in the nose and throat.
0:29:39 Time of contact with membranes makes concentration, time to dissolve, and frequency of use important.
0:32:53 Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
0:35:34 Meta-analysis of individual patient data and lack of effect of age, sex, baseline cold severity, allergy status, race, and ethnicity
0:36:54 George Eby’s model showing a strong correlation between predicted ionic zinc yield and efficacy in RCTs suggests that the right dose of the right formulation taken at the right time in the right way could constitute a true cure of the common cold.
0:39:17 Only Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges fit the criteria.
0:47:26 My story with Life Extension zinc acetate lozenges.
How to Get the Right Zinc Lozenges at the Best Price
By far and away, the most cost-effective way to get the Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Lozenges right now is to order four from the Life Extension web site. To do so, click on “Select Multi-Unit Discount” and change it to “4 Units.” Until January 31, Life Extension’s “Super Sale” has them 32% off when sold singularly and 55% off when sold in a pack of four. Shipping costs $5.50, but spread across four bottles it’s only $1.37 per bottle. Compared to the Amazon Prime option (which, in any case, is out of stock until December 30), despite its free shipping, buying a four-pack from Life Extension saves 39%. Compared to the least expensive non-Prime options on Amazon, it saves 28%.
Personally, I had the misfortune of accidentally buying from one of the non-Prime sellers on Amazon, and in the process accidentally paid for shipping when I thought I was getting it free, and on December 26 its current status is “Expected December 16, 2016: On the Way.”
One bottle contains 30 lozenges, which, taken correctly, is sufficient to knock out a cold in a single person. The cost of one bottle, with shipping, when ordering four from Life Extension is $6.77.
Having more than one bottle is great for frequent cold sufferers, households where more than one person may get sick, or someone who wants to be prepared for next time. To use this properly, you need to have it on hand before you get sick. Therefore, at least through January 31, 2017, I think the best way to get this is to order four from Life Extension and the second best is to order fewer than four from them.
Should You Take Copper While Taking Zinc Lozenges?
While it might not be necessary, I think it’s a good idea to take 2-3 mg of copper with each meal while taking the zinc lozenges, and to stop both as soon as the cold is gone. This is because the portion of zinc that reaches the intestines can trap copper in intestinal cells and cause it to soon after be lost in the feces.
I don’t have strong opinions about which copper supplement is best, but here are the options that seem most cost-effective:
Source Naturals at Iherb is $5.67 for 120 3-mg tablets.
Solgar at Amazon is $8.05 for 100 2.5-mg tablets and is eligible for Prime and fulfilled by Amazon.
My Cold Season War Chest of High-Impact Supplements
This podcast was a result of research I did for My Cold Season War Chest of High-Impact Supplements, which was a gift to my email list. This guide provides a broader context of supplements I find useful during cold season. If you subscribe to my email list using this link, you will immediately get the opportunity to download the War Chest email as a pdf.
Hemilä, Petrus, Fitzgerald, and Prasad, Zinc acetate lozenges for treating the common cold: an individual patient data meta-analysis.
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