Here's The Only Supplement You Should Take For Your Cold

A zinc lozenge. Flickr/Michelle Dyer

Research suggests that neither vitamin C or orange juice will help beat that cold.

Nevertheless, sales of the beverage are rising for the first time in half a decade — and people think it may have to do with this year's terrible flu season.

If you're looking for something that could actually help reduce your symptoms and the length of your cold, studies suggest that zinc — not vitamin C — may be your best bet.

Flu season 2018 is not messing around.

As the virus has swept the US in recent months, people seem to have turned to orange juice in the hope that the vitamin C-rich beverage will help them fight off illness. Sales of the drink rose 0.9% in the four weeks ending on January 20, according to The Wall Street Journal — the first time in almost five years that Nielsen data showed a year-over-year increase.

Importantly, the symptoms of the flu and the common cold, both of which are caused by viruses, can be very similar, so it's tough to tell which one you have.

That said, neither orange juice nor vitamin C supplements will likely do much good against either virus. Studies have found that vitamin C does nothing to prevent or treat the common cold — and the research on vitamin C and the flu has been inconclusive.

Instead of vitamin C, the available evidence does support the use of another supplement — zinc.

'Routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified'

A 2013 review of 29 trials which involved more than 11,300 people found "no consistent effect of vitamin C ... on the duration or severity of colds." The only place the authors observed some benefits of vitamin C supplementation was in marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers on "subarctic exercise" — and even in those small populations, the observed effect was small.

"The failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified," the study authors wrote.

And megadoses of vitamin C — on the order of 2,000 milligrams or more — may come with substantial harms, including raising your risk of painful kidney stones.

If you want to increase your overall vitamin and mineral intake, research backs getting it from fresh fruits and vegetables. This is the best way for your body to process it and ensures you get the most nutrients possible.

There is, however, one supplement for colds that DOES have some evidence behind it.

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