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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Aug 1;72(8):1149-1154. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glw218.

Zinc Deficiency Is associated With Depressive Symptoms-Results From the Berlin Aging Study II.

Author information

Charité Research Group on Geriatrics.
Interdisciplinary Metabolic Center.
Institute of Medical and Human Genetics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.



Zinc plays an important role for behavioral and mental function, maintaining the correct functions of intracellular signal transduction, cellular and trans-membrane transport, protein synthesis, and antioxidant system. We investigated both dietary zinc intake and plasma zinc levels and the correlation with depressive symptoms in a large sample of community-dwelling old.


One thousand five hundred fourteen older people (aged 60-84 years, 772 women) from the Berlin Aging Study II were included. Zinc intake was assessed by the EPIC Food Frequency Questionnaire. Plasma zinc levels were assessed with atomic-absorption spectrophotometry. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the "Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale" and the "Geriatric Depression Scale."


Zinc deficiency in blood plasma was found in 18.7% of participants, and depressive symptoms in 15.7%. Participants with depressive symptoms had lower energy-adjusted zinc intake (median 11.1 vs 11.6 µmol/L; p = .048) and lower plasma zinc levels (median 12.2 vs12.3 mg/dL; p = .037). Even after adjustment for known predictors of depression, plasma zinc deficiency remained significantly associated with depressive symptoms (odds ratio: 1.490, 95% confidence interval: 1.027-2.164; p = .036). In the multiple logistic regression model stratified by sex, we found that plasma zinc deficiency was strongly associated with a higher risk for depressive symptoms in women (odds ratio: 1.739, 95% confidence interval: 1.068-2.833; p = .026).


Plasma zinc deficiency was common in our old study population. An increase in dietary zinc and higher plasma zinc levels may reduce the risk of depressive symptoms. A screening for reduced dietary zinc intake or plasma zinc deficiency might be beneficial in older people at risk of depressive symptoms.


Depressive disorders; Plasma zinc; Zinc intake

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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