Can taking a zinc supplement help to treat mood disorders such as depression? Find out how this vital mineral could affect mental health.
With the hectic pace of modern day life and the many challenges young people face, it’s not uncommon for young women to face depression and anger issues. Many are placed on prescription antidepressants to treat their symptoms – and some go on to experience serious side effects. Disturbing new studies show that taking antidepressants for the treatment of mood disorders increases the risk of suicide in young people and the risk of stroke in older women. Is there a natural way to treat mood disorders that doesn’t involve prescription drugs?
Treating Mood Disorders with Zinc?
According to a new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking zinc for the treatment of mood disorders may be beneficial. Researchers gave thirty young women seven milligrams of zinc gluconate daily along with a multivitamin for ten weeks. (the multivitamin was given to prevent an underlying vitamin deficiency from altering the results). A control group was only given a multivitamin. After completing the ten week course of supplements, only the group taking the zinc supplement showed improvement in their anger and depression scores.
It’s not surprising that zinc could play a role in treating mood disorders such as depression. Zinc is second only to iron as the mineral found in highest concentrations in the brain. Zinc deficiency causes mood changes, decreased mental function, and generalized apathy – along with other symptoms such as slow wound healing, infertility, and decreased immunity to infection. Studies show that some depressed patients have low zinc levels and respond to zinc supplements.
Zinc for Treatment of Mood Disorders: Who Benefits?
Should all people with depression take zinc for their symptoms? There are two problems with taking zinc for depression. It’s still unclear whether it’s effective for treating mood disorders in people who aren’t already zinc deficient. Zinc deficiency was once believed to be relatively rare, but new studies show that almost one in three people may not have adequate levels of this mineral.
The other problem with taking zinc for depression is that supplementing with zinc can lead to a copper deficiency if a person takes too much. A copper deficiency can lead to serious neurological problems such as neuropathy and degeneration of the spine. Zinc supplements may only be safe for those who are zinc deficient.
The Bottom Line?
Taking zinc for depression may be effective for people who are zinc deficient, but it’s still unclear whether it helps people with normal zinc levels. If you’re suffering from depression, have your doctor check for a zinc deficiency and follow your copper levels closely if you choose to take a zinc supplement.
Food Production Daily website. “Zinc May Ease Female Anger and Depression”.
Pol J Pharmacol 55 (6): 1143–7.