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A little boost

With more people turning to supplements at the first sign of cold or flu, chicken soup's getting a run for its money. But what's the science?

February 18, 2008|Elena Conis | Special to The Times

Americans are increasingly heading to the supplements aisle at the first sign of a sniffle. Some believe that supplements are an effective way to head off a cold or the flu. Others are wary of the side effects associated with over-the-counter drugs, or alarmed about the risks cold medicines appear to pose to children.

Sales of cold and flu supplements have grown so much (8% in 2006, compared to 2% for over-the-counter drugs), that more traditional cold and flu brands have taken note. Even the mainstream Theraflu now makes a formulation, Fortifense, containing zinc, echinacea and vitamin C.

But are supplements worth the money spent on them? If the goal is a quick recovery or rapid relief from symptoms, the answer is probably not. If the goal is prevention, the answer is . . . maybe, depending on the product, its dose and timing.

Full story, Pages 6-7

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