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Zinc deficiency in anorexia nervosa

  • Rebecca L. Katz
    Correspondence
    Address reprint requests to: Rebecca L. Katz, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Room N-053, The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, 525 East 68th Street, New York, NY 10021.
    Affiliations
    From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center USA

    From the Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis USA
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  • Carl L. Keen
    Affiliations
    From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center USA

    From the Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis USA
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  • Iris F. Litt
    Affiliations
    From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center USA

    From the Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis USA
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  • Lucille S. Hurley
    Affiliations
    From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center USA

    From the Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis USA
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  • Kathleen M. Kellams-Harrison
    Affiliations
    From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center USA

    From the Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis USA
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  • Laurie J. Glader
    Affiliations
    From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University Medical Center USA

    From the Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis USA
    Search for articles by this author
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      Abstract

      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.

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