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Zinc for Anxiety - Does It Really Help?

Does taking zinc for anxiety help to reduce the symptoms?

zinc for anxietyMany educated individuals are looking for natural alternatives to manage anxiety and panic attacks. Minerals such as zinc and magnesium and the family of B vitamins has received attention lately as possible effective natural supplements for anxiety.

Clinical research studies seem to show that deficiencies in minerals like zinc and magnesium may be responsible, in part, for worsening anxiety and triggering anxiety attacks.

Read on to find out what we currently know about the benefits of zinc for anxiety disorders...

Research study on the health benefits of taking zinc for anxiety

Here's what scientific studies have found out about the role of zinc as it relates to the nervous system:
  • Animal studies show that rats that are deprived of zinc for 2 weeks experienced a 50% drop in zinc blood levels. These rats showed anxiety-like behaviors.
  • Studies in human subjects suggest that zinc may play a role in the fear response.
  • Zinc is needed for nerve cells to communicate properly. Some studies seem to show that low zinc levels may be responsible for ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder) symptoms and other mental disorders.

The benefits of taking zinc for anxiety symptoms reduction are supported by clinical studies. Let's take a quick look one well-designed trial on school-age children:

Randomized trial of the effect of zinc supplementation on the mental health of school-age children in Guatemala.
DiGirolamo AM, Ramirez-Zea M, Wang M, Flores-Ayala R, Martorell R, Neufeld LM, Ramakrishnan U, Sellen D, Black MM, Stein AD.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1241-50.

This study involved 674 Guatemalan children in grades one to four. They were given 10 mg daily of zinc supplement for 5 days per week.

The results revealed that the children who had low zinc levels had significantly reduced anxiety and depression symptoms.

But this benefit was seen only if the children had low zinc levels to start with.

About 21% of the children suffered from low zinc levels and they benefited the most from the zinc supplement.

How do you know if you are low in zinc?

You can get a medical lab to measure it in your blood. Luckily, most multi-vitamins contains between 1 to 10 mg of zinc already. Taking a daily high-potency multi-vitamin might be all that you need.

Also you are lucky to not live in Guatemala where there's probably no drugstore nearby to buy a multi-vitamin!

Foods Rich in Zinc

Eating foods rich in zinc can give you all the zinc you will need. The following food sources are high in zinc content:
  • Oysters - 16 to 168 mg of zinc per 100 g
  • Wheat germ - 17 mg of zinc for each 100 g
  • Veal Liver - 12 mg of zinc for each 100 g
  • Sesame Flour - 10 mg of zinc for each 100 g

Zinc for Anxiety - Dose to Use

Experts suggest using between 10 to 40 mg of zinc daily. Higher doses of zinc have been used to treat other conditions like acne (up to 135 mg).

A typical North American male gets about 13 mg of zinc in his diet daily while a woman gets about 9 mg daily.

Zinc can be safely used with other minerals such as magnesium.

Bottom Line?

Taking zinc for anxiety symptoms is worth a try since it is a safe and cost-effective.

It is a recommended supplement for everyone to take regardless of the stress and anxiety levels they are experiencing.

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References for Zinc for Anxiety

Revised: August 27, 2019

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