Zinc deficiency in anorexia nervosa

Rebecca L. Katz, Carl L Keen, Iris F. Litt, Lucille S. Hurley, Kathleen M. Kellams-Harrison, Laurie J. Glader

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66 Scopus citations


Adolescents with anorexia nervosa were evaluated for clinical and biochemical evidence of zinc deiciency. To assess whether these patients would benefit from zinc supplementation, a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial was conducted. The mean zinc intake of the anorexic group calculated on the basis of three-day dietary records was 7.7 ± 5.2 mg/day, which is significantly below the recommended daily allowance of 15 mg for adolescents (p < 0.001). The mean urinary zinc excretion in the anorexic group was 257.1 ± 212.7 μg/24 hours compared to 749.9 ± 897.8 μg/24 hours in the control group (p < 0.005), This result suggests that the zinc status of anorexia nervosa patients may be compromised due to an inadequate zinc intake. Zinc supplementation (50 mg elemental zinc/day) was followed by a decrease in the level of depression and anxiety as assessed by the Zung Depression Scale (p < 0.05) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (P < 0.05), respectively. Our data suggest that individuals with anorexia nervosa may be at risk for zinc deficiency and may respond favorably after zinc supplementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-406
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1987


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Zinc deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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