Mood disorders, such as depression, can be devastating for those affected. Unfortunately, some people do not benefit from medications used to treat these conditions, either because the medications don't work or the side effects are intolerable.
Zoning in on zinc
To look at how zinc might affect mood disorders, researchers invited 30 young women to participate in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. The women were randomly selected to take a multivitamin or a multivitamin with 7 mg zinc daily for ten weeks. Blood levels of zinc were measured, and psychological tests were administered before and after the study.
After ten weeks of supplementation, the researchers found that compared with the women taking the multivitamin alone, those who took the multivitamin plus zinc experienced:
- A significant reduction in a psychological measure of anger and hostility
- A significant reduction in a psychological measure of depression and feelings of dejection
- A significant increase in blood levels of zinc
The researchers concluded that zinc supplementation may be an effective way to reduce anger and depression in young women.
Meeting your zinc quota
This study looked at using a 7 mg zinc supplement to improve mood in young women. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc for women 19 years old and up is 8 mg per day. So the zinc supplement used in the study was relatively low dose that falls in the range of zinc intake that is safe for adult women.
To make sure you get enough zinc, try the following:
- Check your multivitamin label. It may already contain zinc, which means you probably do not need an extra zinc supplement.
- Ask your doctor if adding a zinc supplement to your diet is a good idea.
- If you do decide to take zinc, stick with a dose that is no more than the 8 mg RDA, unless you are being supervised by your doctor.
- Focus on upping the zinc-rich foods in your diet. Foods with plenty of zinc include:
- Shellfish such as oysters, crabs, and scallops; stick to cooked oysters only to limit your risk of food borne illness ("food poisoning")
- Zinc-fortified cereals
- Beans, chickpeas, and lentils
- Turkey and lean beef
- Nuts and seeds
- Barley and other whole grains
Lastly, avoid getting too much zinc. Zinc can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, so you don't want to overdo it.
(Eur J Clin Nutr 2010; 64:331--33)