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Oral zinc supplementation in anorexia nervosa.

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Pediatric Clinic, Biskopsgården, Göteborg, Sweden.


There is evidence to suggest that zinc (Zn) deficiency may be involved in the pathogenesis of anorexia nervosa (AN). In an open study of 20 females, aged 14-26 years, afflicted with AN the effect of oral zinc supplementation was investigated. In each case the diagnosis of AN was based on the criteria of DSM-III-R. After a careful history, complete physical examination and laboratory screening the subjects were started on 45-90 mg of Zn2+, as zinc sulfate, (SolvezinkR, Tika, Sweden) per day. During a follow-up period of 8-56 months 17 patients increased their body weight by more than 15%. The maximum gradual weight gain of 57% was encountered in one patient after 24 months of zinc therapy. The most rapid weight gain was recorded in a patient who increased her body weight by 24% over a period of 3 months. After the institution of zinc, weight loss was not registered in any of our patients. In 13 subjects the menstruation returned 1-17 months after the initiation of zinc therapy. None of our patients developed bulimia. The design of an ongoing multicenter placebo-controlled clinical trial of zinc supplementation to patients with AN is described.

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