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Rejuvenation Res. 2006 Summer;9(2):333-7.

Psychosocial aspects and zinc status: is there a relationship with successful aging?

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Social Gerontology Unit, INRCA Research Department, Italian National Research Centres on Aging, Ancona, Italy.


It is very interesting and innovative to study the interrelationships between biological characteristics, particularly zinc status, and psychosocial conditions in old age, because there are few and fragmentary data in the literature. The aim of this study was to examine the interrelationship between serum albumin value (an indicator of zinc status) and some psychosocial characteristics in elderly Italian volunteers recruited for the ZINCAGE project, which is supported by the European Commission in the Sixth Framework Programme (Food-CT-2003- 506850). A protocol of tests and questionnaires was used: the Lifestyle Questionnaire, the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE), the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS, 15 items), and the Perceived Stress Scale. A sample of 174 old subjects were recruited in Region Marche (Central Italy), and classified into three age groups: 65 to 74 years old, 75 to 84 years old, and >85 years old (including some nonagenarians). The preliminary results show that 69.7% of the subjects have no cognitive impairment; 66.5% have a value of the GDS scale indicating no depression; and 17% have an albumin deficiency. The majority of these are >85 years old and women. A relationship between level of albumin (used as indicator of zinc status) and depression has been found: 71% of subjects with albumin deficiency displayed a higher value on the depression test against 29% of subjects with a normal value (p < 0.01). These preliminary results show a relationship between serum albumin and psychological characteristics, in particular depression in an old Italian population. This further suggests that a zinc deficiency, via hypoalbumin values, is involved in impaired psychological characteristics in the elderly.

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