Getting sick? Leave the chicken soup for the soul and give your body some zinc instead.

The makers of zinc-based supplements have gotten into some trouble with the feds over the years for promising shorter colds and fewer symptoms... but a new analysis finds they were right all along: Zinc's the real deal.

Researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration looked at 15 studies involving a combined 1,360 people, and found a total reduction in cold duration of a day.

But that's only the beginning--because some studies found an even bigger boost, the kind you'll want next time you start to feel that telltale tingle in your nose.

In one major trial, zinc slashed cold duration by nearly half--from seven days down to four. The same study found that zinc cut cold symptoms such as coughing from five days all the way down to two.

But if it's that good, why do some studies find no benefit it all? Easy--some are practically designed to fail.

It's the oldest trick in the book: If you want to make a supplement look bad, use low quality or low doses--or use it in a way that'll limit its effectiveness.

For zinc, studies have shown that it works best when taken as soon as symptoms start. Give your subjects their zinc a day late, and of course it will fall a dollar short.

The Cochrane researchers didn't fall for any of those tricks--and in addition to confirming that zinc can shorten the duration and severity of the typical cold, they found that people who take it regularly can actually avoid getting sick in the first place.

That's even better than a "cure."

The researchers also found that children given regular zinc supplements missed less school and need fewer antibiotics.

Zinc isn't the only cold-busting immune booster--remember than fenugreek I mentioned earlier? [please link to "A" story in online version]

Well, it turns out the two can work together on more than just your sexual health: A recent study found that fenugreek might also help beat the cold.

Researchers asked 10 healthy volunteers to consume two portions of fenugreek a week during cold season. They also asked 10 sick volunteers to do the same.

The healthy volunteers stayed healthy... and the sick ones reported near- immediate relief.

Clinical trials are planned next.

But with a shot at a better sex life and a stronger immune system all at once, is there really any reason to wait?