Zinc Supplementation Reduces Common Cold Duration among Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials with Micronutrients Supplementation

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Jul;103(1):86-99. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.19-0718. Epub 2020 Apr 23.


The common cold had resulted in significant economic and social burden worldwide. The effect of vitamin C on preventing common cold in healthy adults has been investigated extensively, but not that of other micronutrients. Thus, we aim to assess the effects of providing micronutrients singly through oral means, on cold incidence, and/or management (in terms of cold duration and symptom severity) in healthy adults from systematically searched randomized controlled trials. From four electronic databases, 660 identified studies were screened and data were extracted from 20 studies (zinc, 10; vitamin D, 8; and vitamins A and E, 2). The quality of selected studies was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool and certainty in the outcomes was assessed with the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach. The review found that micronutrients supplementation, except vitamin C, may not prevent cold incidence or reduce symptom severity among healthy adults. However, zinc supplementation was observed to potentially reduce cold duration by 2.25 days (when zinc is provided singly, 95% CI: -3.39, -1.12). This suggests that zinc supplementation may reduce the overall burden due to common cold among healthy adults.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Common Cold / epidemiology*
  • Common Cold / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*


  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Ascorbic Acid