Zinc Gel for Colds?

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Is zinc-containing nasal gel helpful, harmful, or just a waste of money?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

New game. Good, bad, or useless? Helpful, harmful, or just a waste of money?

First up: zinc-containing nasal gel as a cold remedy. It’s unclear whether oral zinc supplements help with a cold—but what about squirting zinc up your nose? Good, bad, or just snake oil?

Bad. More than 100 reports of people losing their sense of smell, some permanently—forever.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

New game. Good, bad, or useless? Helpful, harmful, or just a waste of money?

First up: zinc-containing nasal gel as a cold remedy. It’s unclear whether oral zinc supplements help with a cold—but what about squirting zinc up your nose? Good, bad, or just snake oil?

Bad. More than 100 reports of people losing their sense of smell, some permanently—forever.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

Also check out Nutritional Yeast to Prevent the Common Cold.

And check out my other videos on the common cold

For more context, also check out my associated blog posts: Soy milk: shake it up! and The Best Way to Prevent the Common Cold?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

14 responses to “Zinc Gel for Colds?

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      1. There could be several reasons. You could be allergic to the beets or just have a food intolerance. Dr. McDougall has a good post on “Allergic Reactions to Foods” on his website, http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_allergic.html. His recommended approach is very practical as it often difficult to pinpoint the reason for your reaction. Clearly you should avoid the food. If the reaction consists of trouble breathing I would suggest being evaluated by an allergist. Best wishes.




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      2. Are you drinking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach? I did that and immediately was ill…sweating, dizzy, nauseous for about an hour. I tried it again a few weeks later after I’d had breakfast and was just fine. I think it was just too much fruit sugar for the body to handle on an empty stomach.




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    1. Dr. Greger, I am feeling concerned about a long-term vegan diet. I have adopted a vegan diet about 6 months ago. I have tried throughout these months to eat the healthiest I can and I am now eating mostly high carb. I thought I was getting all the nutrients I needed from food (apart from vitamin B-12 of course) but after reading about Zinc and how it isn’t properly absorbed by plant-foods (is this true?) I am quite disappointed. I don’t want to be worrying every single day about if I am getting enough nutrients. What do you recommend for me to eat to be be getting my daily recommendation of Zinc? Thank you for your time.




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      1. Emillie: Your comment caused me to pull out my well loved and trusted reference book on vegan nutrition: “Becoming Vegan, Express Edition” by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. I don’t speak for Dr. Greger, but I do believe I have heard Dr. Greger speak highly of Brenda Davis in the past and guess that he would agree with the information in the above book.

        Becoming Vegan includes sections on Zinc. It is definitely possible to get all the zinc you need from plant foods. It is also possible to not get enough. The book tell you how to do it right. I highly recommend taking a look at the book since it answers so many other questions too. It is a great reference book. If you aren’t interested in buying the book, maybe you could get it from your public library?

        I don’t have time to type out all of that great info. What I will do is say that the book contains a really cool section starting on page 155 that looks at the strengths and weaknesses of various types of vegan diets. The first vegan diet on the list is one that they call “conventional” which is defined as: combination of cooked and raw foods; about 30% fat. The “weaknesses” paragraph says, “With poor food choices, a conventional vegan diet may be low in foods rich in protein, iron, and zinc, such as legumes, or in calcium-rich foods.” (Eat beans was one of the suggestions earlier in the book for getting enough zinc.) The key point in that sentence is, “With poor food choices…” The “making it work” paragraph says: “Eat a balanced of cooked and raw foods, and use convenience food sin moderation.”

        Does that help?




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        1. I do eat a variety of legumes. :)
          It’s just that I’ve been experiencing hair loss and skin itchiness, which is related to low zinc levels. I bought zinc supplement but I haven’t been taking it… I’m not taking it because I don’t feel like being a slave to taking supplements the rest of my life. I’ve included even more zinc rich foods than when I wrote that comment so hopefully that will have a good effect.




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          1. Please let me know if you come up with anything on the zinc issue. I too have concerns, as most of my diet has far more copper than zinc, and on a 100 percent vegan diet I experience very poor and slow wound (cuts and scrapes and such) healing. It is quite noticeable.

            When I add in limited amounts of low mercury shellfish, the improvements are dramatic. But I’d rather be 100 percent vegan, so maybe a zinc supplement might be the way. Just not sure if they are safe or even effective.




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            1. Hey , I’m concerned as to where you are on the Zinc issue now? :) Have you added in some animal foods or did you start supplementing? I sort of forgot about it for a while to be honest.. But I am still losing a bit of hair sometimes on a fully vegan diet.




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          2. If you want to be sure that you’re getting enough zinc from food, check out cronometer.com. I believe it’s still free. I found out there I was not getting enough zinc so I started taking the lozenges. Could do it with food but combo laziness, and dieting. Remember, most vegans have far better nutrition profiles, blood work than omnivores. Am wondering how you’re doing now, also.




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  1. Are there any reports about those using oral Zinc-Gluconate cold treatments, such as those offered by Zicam, Cold-Eeze, and their generic equivalents?  These are often in the form of lozenges, or oral sprays.  Can these cause permanent loss of the ability to perceive scent?  




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