Dietary zinc is associated with a lower incidence of depression: findings from two Australian cohorts

J Affect Disord. 2014 Sep;166:249-57. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.05.016. Epub 2014 May 23.


Background: Several animal and human studies have shown that zinc plays a role in reducing depression, but there have been no longitudinal studies in both men and women on this topic. The aim of this study was to investigate dietary zinc, and the zinc to iron ratio, as predictors of incident depression in two large longitudinal studies of mid-age and older Australians.

Methods: Data were self-reported, as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women׳s Health (women aged 50-61 years) and Hunter Community Study (men and women aged 55-85 years). Validated food frequency questionnaires were used to assess dietary intake. Energy-adjusted zinc was ranked using quintiles and predictors of incident depression were examined using multivariate logistic regression.

Results: Both studies showed an inverse association between dietary zinc intake and risk of depression, even after adjusting for potential confounders. Compared to those with the lowest zinc intake those with the highest zinc intake had significantly lower odds of developing depression with a reduction of about 30-50%. There was no association between the zinc to iron ratio and developing depression in either study.

Limitations: Dietary assessment was carried out only at baseline and although adjustments were made for all known potential confounders, residual confounding cannot be entirely excluded.

Conclusions: Low dietary zinc intake is associated with a greater incidence of depression in both men and women, as shown in two prospective cohorts. Further studies into the precise role of zinc compared to other important nutrients from the diet are needed.

Keywords: Australia; Cohort; Depression; Diet; Zinc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Self Report
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*


  • Zinc