It's been several years since we were first told that the next best thing to a cure for the common cold was zinc, the essential mineral found in most throat lozenges. A couple years later the zinc rug was yanked out from under us with a new study that suggested children and teenagers weren't benefiting from the magic mineral. So naturally, sniffling people everywhere were confused. Does zinc really prevent and curb cold symptoms or are we just risking losing our senses of smell for nothing? The New York Times helped its loyal readers none by confirming that "the research on zinc as a cold fighter is mixed."
But good news may be in store for all of you who stocked up on Sunkist lozenges during the late 90s. According to the BBC, a new study suggests zinc may not only lessen the symptoms and duration of a cold, but could help prevent them altogether. "There is no proven treatment for the common cold, but experts believe zinc medications may help prevent and lessen infections by coating the common cold viruses and stopping them from entering the body through the thin lining of the nose," writes the BBC's Michelle Roberts. "It also appears to stop the virus from replicating, at least in laboratory tests." But be warned: long-term use of the mineral may be risky because of zinc's toxicity. The best dosages have not yet been determined.