Iron and zinc are essential minerals often present in similar food sources. In addition to the adverse effects of frank iron and zinc-deficient states, iron insufficiency has been associated with impairments in mood and cognition. This paper reviews current literature on iron or zinc supplementation and its impact on mood or cognition in pre-menopausal women. Searches included MEDLINE complete, Excerpta Medica Database (EMBASE), psychINFO, psychARTICLES, pubMED, ProQuest Health and Medical Complete Academic Search complete, Scopus and ScienceDirect. Ten randomized controlled trials and one non-randomized controlled trial were found to meet the inclusion criteria. Seven studies found improvements in aspects of mood and cognition after iron supplementation. Iron supplementation appeared to improve memory and intellectual ability in participants aged between 12 and 55 years in seven studies, regardless of whether the participant was initially iron insufficient or iron-deficient with anaemia. The review also found three controlled studies providing evidence to suggest a role for zinc supplementation as a treatment for depressive symptoms, as both an adjunct to traditional antidepressant therapy for individuals with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder and as a therapy in its own right in pre-menopausal women with zinc deficiency. Overall, the current literature indicates a positive effect of improving zinc status on enhanced cognitive and emotional functioning. However, further study involving well-designed randomized controlled trials is needed to identify the impact of improving iron and zinc status on mood and cognition.
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