Zinc, the Magical Pill?

Anna McCollister, Journalist

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This past week, I began to feel like I was getting sick. I told my friend who immediately suggested taking a zinc pill to try and prevent my cold. I went to the store that same day and bought a bottle of the white capsules and popped one in. Shortly after, I wondered how good this pill really was for my body. It is now my turn to warn you of the pros and the cons of taking a zinc supplement.

What is Zinc?

Zinc is a metal that people need to stay healthy. Zinc can be found in cells throughout the body and helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make genetic material (proteins and DNA).

Does Zinc actually help prevent colds?

– Studies have shown that zinc supplements can shorten how long your cold will last, but haven’t necessarily proven that simply taking a zinc supplement can prevent a cold.

Can I get Zinc without taking a supplement?

Yes, many foods contain Zinc including,

      Spinach

      Kidney beans

      Beef

      Shrimp

      Flax seed

      Pumpkin seed

      Oyster

      Watermelon seed

Are there kinds of Zinc that I should not take?

YES, a few years ago some of the zinc supplements that are applied through the nose made many go nose blind…permanently. The Food and Drug Administration took these products off the shelf but not before receiving more than 130 reports of people losing their sense of smell. Therefore, beware of any zinc product that is applied through the nose.

What are some side effects of Zinc?

      Although zinc may seem like a good idea at times, you should note the side effects you may experience and then decide for yourself whether the pros outweigh the cons.

      Leaving a foul taste in your mouth

      Vomiting

      Stomach cramps

      Diarrhea

      Also be aware of what other medications you are taking at the time, zinc can interact negatively with certain prescription medications.

Now you know, the next time you hear someone suggest you take a zinc pill to prevent a cold, you can decide for yourself whether or not taking the supplement would be beneficial.

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