Zinc Linked to Depression Alleviation

Zinc Linked to Depression AlleviationCould zinc be the key to managing depression? Research could lead to zinc supplements as a way to alleviate the symptoms of depression. A recent study conducted by researchers from the Sunnybrook Research Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada, found that a lower concentration of zinc in peripheral blood is associated with depression. Previous studies over the years have found similar results. 

The Power of Zinc

People take vitamin and mineral supplements to replace the body’s vital nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

Zinc is an antioxidant that helps the immune system function properly. It may help make the body stronger in fighting off illness. It helps regulate metabolism and cognitive function. Other studies have shown that lower levels of zinc in the body could contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Because of zinc’s association with cognitive function, researchers recognize how lower levels of zinc could affect long-term neuropsychological functioning. Preliminary clinical trials suggest that taking zinc may help one’s depression decrease, while lacking zinc in the diet may be a causal factor of depression.

The Lower the Level, the Lower the Mood

The Sunnybrook researchers used 17 previous studies that included 2447 people to analyze the associations between peripheral blood-zinc concentrations and depression. Some participants were psychiatric patients, over half of the total participants were female and the mean age of all was 37.7 years. Out of the total, 1643 were shown to be depressed and 804 were not.

The researchers found that the participants with depression had lower peripheral blood-zinc concentrations. Furthermore, the lower an individual’s zinc levels, the greater the severity of their depression. This encouraged the researcher’s thinking that zinc supplements could help an individual trying to manage their depression.

Those with depression manage their symptoms with antidepressants, therapy and self-help strategies. Scientists suggest that patients may benefit by coupling therapy with zinc supplements. A preliminary clinical trial showed that zinc in conjunction with antidepressants helped speed the recovery time for a group of individuals with depression. Just like taking a few extra fish pills with cholesterol medicine, researchers see a possible benefit for depression patients when they couple their antidepressant therapy with zinc supplements.

Finding the Missing Links

In the studies analyzed by the Sunnybrook group, there were missing pieces that might help determine who would most benefit from zinc supplements and how they could be used. The demographic data was not always accurate. Participants were not asked about other antidepressants or other medications they were using. Diet and health habits also were not sufficiently addressed.

While there are still missing links in the zinc-depression connection, these studies support preliminary clinical trials on using zinc to help manage the symptoms of depression.

While many studies point to an association between zinc levels in the body and depression, researchers agree that more in-depth studies need to be done to prove that zinc supplements could alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Posted on May 5th, 2014
Posted in Depression

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