Research published by BMJ Open, surveyed studies and found zinc supplements might help to prevent and shorten colds and flu.
Most of us are aware that ensuring that our Vitamin C and D intake is sufficient is a good way to fight off or shorten colds and flu - and that nothing is as important as getting enough sleep - but the research published in BMJ Open now suggests that we should be adding zinc to our armoury of defences.
If you already eat plenty of shellfish, you may well already be getting enough zinc through your diet (your daily recommended intake can be provided with just two oysters), and zinc is also found in grains, milk and meat.
The researchers found that zinc supplements may help to shorten the length of a cold by an average of two days. By reviewing 28 studies involving nearly 5,500 people, the researchers found evidence to suggest that taking zinc could also reduce the risk of catching a cold in the first place.
Perhaps surprisingly, how zinc might help to treat colds is not yet known, but a separate study from the Ohio State University suggested that the mineral may help to regulate the immune system and stop it going into overdrive.
However, what’s known about zinc is still preliminary, and researchers do not yet know the optimum dose to take to help your immune system. The NHS advises not to take more than 25mg of zinc a day.
It's also worth noting that research by Queen Mary London found that vitamin D supplements helped to cut the risk of colds and flu by half. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet should be enough to get the rest of the vitamins your immune system needs.