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Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Zinc gluconate (also called zincum gluconicum) is the zinc salt of gluconic acid. It is an ionic compound consisting of two moles of gluconate for each mole of zinc. Zinc gluconate is a popular form for the delivery of zinc as a dietary supplement.
Gluconic acid is found naturally, and is industrially manufactured by the fermentation of glucose, typically by Aspergillus niger, but also by other fungi, e.g. Penicillium, or by bacteria, e.g. Acetobacter, Pseudomonas and Gluconobacter. In its pure form, it is a white to off-white powder. It can also be manufactured by electrolytic oxidation, although this is a more expensive process. The advantages are a lower microbiological profile, and a more complete reaction, yielding a product with a longer shelf life.
Zinc and the common cold
A 2011 systematic meta analysis of studies conducted by the Cochrane Collaboration indicates that zinc "is associated with a significant reduction" in the duration and severity of cold symptoms but offers no recommendations as to dosage. Many over the counter zinc medications may be less effective or ineffective because they do not contain the optimum mix of ingredients. This variety of formulations has also been implicated in the prior lack of success in determining the effectiveness of zinc medicines. Methodological weaknesses are also thought to have contributed to the mixed results of previous studies (see below). The 2011 Cochrane review is widely regarded as the most authoritative assessment to date of the effectiveness of zinc as a treatment for the common cold. It is suspected that zinc acetate lozenges shorten the duration of cold symptoms by reducing inflammatory cytokines.
Zinc administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms reduces the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people.
When supplemented for at least five months, it reduces cold incidence, school absenteeism and prescription of antibiotics in children.There is potential for zinc lozenges to produce side effects. In view of this and the differences in study populations, dosages, formulations and duration of treatment, it is difficult to make firm recommendations about the dose, formulation and duration that should be used.
Before 2011, research on the zinc and the common cold has been inconsistent, and a number of studies have failed to find any benefit. A 2000 systematic review by the Cochrane Library referred to the evidence of benefit as inconclusive. The Harvard Family Health Guide stated in 2001 that one study suggested that "zinc lozenges have little, if any, beneficial effect on the treatment of the common cold." A 2003 review in the Journal of American Pharmacists Association determined that the majority of studies supported the value of zinc in reducing the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold when administered within 24 hours of the onset of common cold symptoms. Another systematic review, published in 2006 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that many of the studies of zinc in the common cold suffered from methodologic flaws; restricting the analysis to well designed studies, the authors concluded that the therapeutic effectiveness of zinc lozenges has yet to be established.
Instances of anosmia (loss of smell) have been reported with intranasal use of some products containing zinc gluconate. In September 2003, Zicam faced lawsuits from users who claimed that the product, a nasal gel containing zinc gluconate and several inactive ingredients, negatively affected their sense of smell and sometimes taste. Some plaintiffs alleged experiencing a strong and very painful burning sensation when they used the product. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., the maker of Zicam, responded that only a small number of people had experienced problems and that anosmia can be caused by the common cold itself. In January 2006, 340 lawsuits were settled for $12 million.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers zinc gluconate to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used in accordance with good manufacturing practice, although this does not constitute a finding by the FDA that the substance is a useful dietary supplement. On 16 June 2009 the FDA "warned consumers to stop using and discard three zinc-containing Zicam intranasal products. The products may cause a loss of sense of smell. ... FDA is concerned that the loss of sense of smell may be permanent."  Matrixx responded that the FDA's allegations were "unfounded and misleading", citing a lack of evidence from controlled tests that Zicam causes anosmia. In its warning, FDA stated, "This warning does not involve oral zinc tablets and lozenges taken by mouth. Dietary zinc is also not subject to this warning." 
- Sumitra Ramachandran, Pierre Fontanille, Ashok Pandey and Christian Larroche (2006). "Gluconic Acid: A Review". Food Technology and Biotechnology 44 (2): 185–195. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
- Henk G.J. de Wilt (1972). "Part I: The oxidation of Glucose to Gluconic Acid". Ind. Eng. Chem. Prod. Res. Develop. 11 (4): 370. doi:10.1021/i360044a002. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
- Singh M, Das RR. (2011). "Zinc for the common cold". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2 (2): CD001364. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3. PMID 21328251.
- For Cold Virus, Zinc May Edge Out Even Chicken Soup Tara Parker-Pope (February 15, 2011)
- Prasad AS, Fitzgerald JT, Bao B, Beck FW, Chandrasekar PH (August 2000). "Duration of symptoms and plasma cytokine levels in patients with the common cold treated with zinc acetate. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial". Ann. Intern. Med. 133 (4): 245–52. PMID 10929163.
- Prasad AS, Beck FW, Bao B, Snell D, Fitzgerald JT (March 2008). "Duration and severity of symptoms and levels of plasma interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor, and adhesion molecules in patients with common cold treated with zinc acetate". J. Infect. Dis. 197 (6): 795–802. doi:10.1086/528803. PMID 18279051.
- Marshall I; Marshall, Ian (2000). "Zinc for the common cold". In Marshall, Ian. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD001364. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001364. PMID 10796643.
- "Infections and Immune System Diseases". Harvard Family Health Guide. Harvard Medical School. January 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
- Hulisz D (2004). "Efficacy of zinc against common cold viruses: an overview". J Am Pharm Assoc (2003) 44 (5): 594–603. doi:10.1331/1544-3220.127.116.114.Hulisz. PMID 15496046.
- Caruso TJ, Prober CG, Gwaltney JM (September 2007). "Treatment of naturally acquired common colds with zinc: a structured review". Clin. Infect. Dis. 45 (5): 569–74. doi:10.1086/520031. PMID 17682990.
- "Title 21, Part 182 Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (21CFR182)". United States Code of Federal Regulations. Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
- http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm166931.htm Retrieved on 2009-07-18
- http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm167065.htm Retrieved on 2009-07-18
- "FDA warns against using 3 popular Zicam cold meds". CNN. 2009-06-16. Retrieved 2010-04-29.