Oysters: Cure for the Common Cold?

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Every few months, some company tries to come up with its own revolutionary cure for the common cold, but none ever seem to do the trick. But now, a new study argues that the real cure for the common cold has been right in front of us all this time: zinc.

Researchers at the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit health care organization, analyzed the results of 15 lab trials from recent years looking at zinc’s health effects on more than 1,300 test subjects, and found that those who had taken zinc supplements in the 24 hours prior to developing cold symptoms proved to have less severe colds and were sick for a shorter period of time.

The report also found that those who took zinc supplements for at least five months turned out to get sick less often, take fewer days off and were generally prescribed fewer antibiotics.

For the time being, researchers remain unsure just how much zinc one should have each day, and some test subjects reportedly experienced nausea and a bad taste in their mouth after taking zinc. But according to the National Institutes of Health, men older than 19 should strive to have 11 mg of zinc each day and women in that age group should have 8 mg per day.

However, unlike with other nutrients like vitamin C, it can be difficult to determine which foods and beverages have significant amounts of zinc in them, and indeed there are fewer products that do actually contain enough to meet your daily needs.

Of all the foods out there, the one that boasts the most zinc is oysters, particularly fried and breaded ones. Just three ounces of these oysters average 74 mg of zinc, so if you feel a cold coming on, just order some of that the night before and you should be all right. If you don’t like fried oysters, you can get the raw variety, which gives you a little less than half that amount of zinc.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need that much. One cup’s worth of several cereals like Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran or Product 19 will give you about 15 mg worth of zinc, more than your daily recommended value.

If you’re looking for something meatier, then try a meal of turkey or beef and baked beans. Three ounces of beef gives you 7.5 mg of zinc, one neck’s worth of turkey (the government’s phrasing, not ours) gives you more than 10 mg and one cup of baked beans gives you about 14 mg.

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