Key points: Research supports the use of both iron and zinc for pre-menopausal women to improve mood and memory. Iron and zinc are often found together in foods such as spinach and flax, but research has also shown that is not the only thing they have in common.
This systematic review by Karla A. Lomagno, et al., reviewed papers from nine different databases, evaluating literature that studied iron and zinc deficiency and cognition in females ages 12-55. Results from seven studies indicated that iron supplementation improved mood and cognition, whether the participants had a deficiency prior to supplementation or not. Three trials suggested that zinc supplementation for depressive concerns, both as a stand-alone supplement and as an adjunct to antidepressive pharmaceuticals, improved mood.
There are several limitations to this study; the most obvious was the fact that to date, only a few trials have evaluated the mood effects of iron and zinc supplementation, but the results from those few studies do show supplementation with either of these minerals can improve cognition and emotional function. Additionally, no studies have evaluated the combination of zinc and iron supplementation; more research is needed to understand appropriate combination, dosing and frequency.
Why is this clinically relevant?
- Iron supplementation, regardless of deficiency may improve mood and memory
- Zinc given alone, or as an adjunct to antidepressants, can help improve cognition and mood
- Additional research is necessary to determine dosage, frequency, and combined supplementation with these minerals