Does zinc reduce the symptoms of the common cold?

Dylan, a 20-year-old university student, presented with sneezing, a runny nose and sore throat. It’s winter again and patients with the common cold have been filling the waiting room.

Between sniffles, he asks: “My mum says that I should take some zinc tablets – what do you think?”

What does the research evidence say?

Step 1: The Cochrane Library

A quick search of the Cochrane Library reveals an article published in 2011 that is up to date to June 2010.1 This systematic review seemed positive but noted the issue of side effects and heterogeneity in the details and results of the included trials.

Step 2: PubMed