A systematic review of the association between zinc and anxiety

Nutr Rev. 2024 Apr 12;82(5):612-621. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuad076.

Abstract

Context: The incidence of anxiety, which stems from both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, has been increasing worldwide. Various methods by which it can be treated or prevented have been reported thus far. One of the most popular and effective treatments is supplementation therapy. Zinc, which is an essential nutrient found in various plants, animal foods, and supplements, has been shown to be a potential nutrient in anxiety reduction by acting on γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamatergic, serotonergic, neurogenesis, and immune systems. It can also influence important receptors, such as GPR39. Thus, zinc has received considerable attention with respect to its potential role as a therapeutic or detrimental factor for anxiety; yet, the available evidence needs to be analyzed systematically to reach a convergent conclusion.

Objective: The objective was to systematically review any potential connection between adult human anxiety and zinc intake.

Data sources and extraction: Nine original human studies, of which 2 assessed the relationship between zinc consumption and anxiety (based on a questionnaire) and 7 assessed the relationship between serum zinc levels and anxiety, were included based on specific selection criteria. Studies that had been written in English and published in peer-reviewed publications with no restrictions on the date of publication were searched in the Google Scholar and PubMed databases. This project was also reported according to the PRISMA guidelines.

Data analysis: As per the studies analyzed in this review, there was a noticeable relationship between serum zinc levels and anxiety, which means that patients with anxiety have lower levels of zinc in their serum, as compared with healthy individuals. Furthermore, zinc consumption was inversely associated with anxiety.

Conclusion: The results provide plausible evidence for the positive role of zinc in the treatment of patients afflicted with anxiety, albeit with some limitations.

Keywords: anxiety; stress; zinc; zinc deficiency.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Nutrients
  • Nutritional Status
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Zinc* / therapeutic use

Substances

  • Zinc
  • GPR39 protein, human
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled