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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2010 Nov;137(2):150-8. doi: 10.1007/s12011-009-8572-x. Epub 2009 Dec 15.

Correlation between dietary zinc intakes and its serum levels with depression scales in young female students.

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Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Paramedicine, Diabetes Research Center, Jondi-Shapour University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.


It has been suggested that mood disorders and depressive status may be accompanied by lowered zinc status in the body, and adequate consumption of zinc increases a general perceived well-being. The main objective of this study was to assess the correlation between serum zinc concentrations and dietary zinc intakes with depression scores in university female students. In the first phase, Beck's depression questionnaire was applied in a random sampling of 308 selected 20-25-year-old female students (one third of total students in Ahvaz Jondi-Shapour University of Medical Sciences Golestan dormitories) to assess the major depressive disorder (MDD) scales. Then, in the second phase, 23 students who identified as having moderate and severe depression were selected as the case group, and 23 healthy age matched were chosen as the controls. Each of them completed a 12-item semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire containing the main food sources of zinc in the usual dietary patterns and also a 24-h food recall questionnaire to assure the daily zinc intakes. Daily zinc intakes were obtained by multiplying each portion size by its zinc content using food tables. A 5-ml blood sample was taken for further serum zinc status using flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry technique. Pearson's r was used to show the correlation between quantitative variables. Both daily zinc intake and serum zinc concentrations of MDD group were about two thirds of healthy index (p < 0.01). Depressed individuals used to eat lower servings of red meats and chicken as the main food sources of zinc in students' usual diets (p < 0.001). Consumption of other foods as the sources of zinc was not significantly different in two groups. A linear significant correlation between dietary zinc intakes and its serum levels was seen in samples (r = 0.62; p < 0.001) and MDD students (r = 0.55; p < 0.001). There was a linear inverse correlation between Beck questionnaire scores and serum zinc concentrations in all of the investigated students(r = -0.65; p < 0.001) and MDD girls (r = -0.71; p < 0.001). Beck questionnaire scores and diatary zinc intakes were also inversly correlated (r = -0.58; p < 0.001). However, no statistical correlation was seen between these two variables in MDD cases. In depressed female students, dietary zinc intake is correlated to its serum concentrations; however, the serum zinc levels are inversely correlated to depression scales. Consumption of the main dietary sources of zinc such as red meats and chicken should be encouraged in young depressed girls.

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