Decreased zinc and increased copper in individuals with anxiety

Nutr Metab Insights. 2011 Feb 7;4:1-5. doi: 10.4137/NMI.S6349. eCollection 2011.


Aim: To assess plasma zinc and copper levels in individuals with anxiety and to test the hypothesis that there is a relationship between copper and zinc concentration and improved symptoms.

Subjects and methods: Serum from 38 individuals with anxiety and 16 neurotypical age, gender and size similar controls were tested for plasma zinc and copper concentration using inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Zinc and copper levels, pre and post therapy, were compared and assessed for perceived anxiety symptoms.

Results: In this preliminary study, individuals with anxiety had significantly higher plasma levels of Cu (P = 0.0348), Cu/Zn (P = 0.0493) and lower Zn (P = 0.0294) compared to controls. Zn levels normalized (increased to the normal range) and Cu/Zn significantly decreased after zinc therapy (P = 0.0004, P = 0.0033, respectively), but Cu did not significantly decrease (0.3577). These same patients improved significantly with respect to perceived overall symptoms after zinc and anti-oxidant therapy (P = 0.013).

Discussion: These results suggest an association between Zn plasma levels and individuals with anxiety, demonstrate that zinc therapy is effective in increasing zinc plasma levels, and show that zinc supplementation may play a role in improved symptoms.

Keywords: anxiety; vitamin B-6; zinc; zinc therapy.