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The antidepressant properties of zinc are well known and well supported by research. Zinc may influence our levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which supports the growth and survival of our neurons. This production of neurons is central to neuroplasticity, which helps the brain adapt in times of change or crisis. If we lack adequate zinc to support good BDNF levels, we’re at greater risk of developing depression.

For those using selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), zinc appears to work well as an adjunct. The serotonin-enhancing effects of SSRIs may amplify zinc’s therapeutic effects.

How to Supplement: Oysters and red meat offer zinc in abundance. Supplements come in pill form. Women need about 8 mg per day, while men should aim for 11 mg; it’s best taken with food to avoid nausea.

Note: Excess zinc may interfere with the absorption of other minerals. Before supplementing, work with your healthcare provider to assess your baseline and determine an appropriate dose.

(Learn more about this building block for healthy cells, how to tell if you’re deficient — and what you can do to optimize your zinc levels with good nutrition — at “The Health Benefits of Zinc.“)

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Explore our curated collection of mental health articles to find more information that can assist you in supporting your overall well-being.

This was excerpted from “8 Key Supplements to Boost Your Mental Health — Naturally” which was published in Experience Life.

Alexandra Smith, MA, LPCC

Alexandra Smith, MA, LPCC, is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Minneapolis and an Experience Life contributing editor.

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