Don't let your boss see this one: A simple mineral could help you beat the cold and get you back on your feet -- and back on the job -- quicker than ever.

A new study finds that zinc -- the main ingredient in many natural cold lozenges -- is so good at beating back the sniffles that it's practically a cure.

In fact, researchers wrote in Open Respiratory Medicine Journal that their review of 13 studies found that 75 mg a day of zinc lozenges slashed cold duration by an average of 42 percent, while 75 mg a day in the form of zinc salts cut the misery by 20 percent.

It's not the first time zinc has come out on top in the battle of the tissue box: Studies have found time and again that the right levels of zinc taken as soon as symptoms strike can lead to shorter and less severe colds.

A recent Cochrane Collaboration analysis of 15 studies found that zinc cut cold duration by an average of just one day overall. But in trials where patients were given the right dose at the right time, the colds vanished in nearly half the time.

In one study included in that analysis, zinc cut cold duration from seven days down to four, and symptoms such as coughing from five days to two.

The cold isn't the only condition zinc can beat: One study last year found that seniors with the lowest blood levels of the mineral had the highest risk of pneumonia and even death.

Those with more zinc not only had a lower risk of the disease, they also had shorter bouts and needed fewer antibiotics when pneumonia did strike.

Despite all the evidence, the feds have raised a stink over zinc -- coming down hard on the makers of natural remedies for their claims over the mineral's cold-beating powers.

But as the latest research shows, the feds were wrong...again.

Anyone really surprised?