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Supplements that could shorten your illness

Zinc and vitamin C have become increasingly popular remedies to help prevent and treat the common cold. Some studies show these supplements can reduce the length of an illness.

Both supplements are available in several forms, including lozenges, syrups, nasal sprays, powders and tablets. But if you’re already getting enough of these immune-boosting nutrients in your diet, taking more may not help. Consider the potential benefits and side effects before taking supplements this cold season.



Oral health benefits

• Vitamin C is an important nutrient for healing and gum health. Your body also needs it to form the tissues that support your teeth.

• Zinc helps control plaque so your body can better fight cavities and gum disease.

Potential side effects

• Vitamin C taken in quantities of 2,000 milligrams a day or more can cause nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

• Zinc can irritate your mouth and stomach. Potential side effects include nausea, a bad taste in your mouth and loss of smell.

• Chewable tablets or gummies can leave behind sugar that bacteria can turn into acid, weakening your enamel and increasing your risk of cavities.


If possible, it’s better to get your daily vitamins and minerals from food, which also provides other important nutrients for your oral and overall health. Good sources of zinc include red meat, chicken, whole grains, beans and nuts. Vitamin C can be found in berries, potatoes, peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and spinach. Try our soup recipes for more ways to get immune-boosting nutrients into your diet.

Our verdict: There’s potential for zinc and vitamin C supplements to shorten the length of a cold. However, nothing beats taking care of yourself with a balanced diet, exercise and plenty of sleep each night. Read our article for tips on how to protect yourself from getting sick by preventing the spread of germs.