Decreased Zinc and Increased Copper in Individuals with Anxiety

The below study reaffirms why zinc and copper level tests are important. 

In Bredesen's book he speaks of the importance of the Zinc To Copper Ratios:

"Often these patients have low zinc in the blood, high copper, and thus a high ratio of copper to zinc. That ratio should be about 1, with about 100mcg/dL each. But many patients with this subtype 3 have serum zinc in the 50s, with copper as high as 170, and thus a ratio much higher than 1."

Bredesen, Dale. The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline (pp. 106-107). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This below summary is written by A.J. Russo. 

Here is the link to the original


Decreased Zinc and Increased Copper in Individuals with Anxiety



To assess plasma zinc and copper levels in individuals with anxiety and to test the hypothesis that there is a relationship between copper and zinc concentration and improved symptoms.

Subjects and methods:

Serum from 38 individuals with anxiety and 16 neurotypical age, gender and size similar controls were tested for plasma zinc and copper concentration using inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Zinc and copper levels, pre and post therapy, were compared and assessed for perceived anxiety symptoms.


In this preliminary study, individuals with anxiety had significantly higher plasma levels of Cu (P = 0.0348), Cu/Zn (P = 0.0493) and lower Zn (P = 0.0294) compared to controls. Zn levels normalized (increased to the normal range) and Cu/Zn significantly decreased after zinc therapy (P = 0.0004, P = 0.0033, respectively), but Cu did not significantly decrease (0.3577). These same patients improved significantly with respect to perceived overall symptoms after zinc and anti-oxidant therapy (P = 0.013).


These results suggest an association between Zn plasma levels and individuals with anxiety, demonstrate that zinc therapy is effective in increasing zinc plasma levels, and show that zinc supplementation may play a role in improved symptoms.

Keywords: anxiety, zinc, vitamin B-6, zinc therapy


Anxiety is a normal emotional response to a threat or potential threat. However, when this emotion is inappropriate, extreme and persistent, and is not proportionate to the nature of the peril, it is classified as pathological., In response to threatening situations, the feeling of anxiety is usually accompanied by emotional stress, which involves behavioral, expressive and physiological features, such as an avoidance of the source of the danger, assuming defensive postures and increasing blood pressure, respectively.,

Anxiety disorders are the most common class of psychiatric disorders in the US and many other countries. Yet, population-based studies have shown that this disease frequently goes untreated.,Anxiety is implicated in a number of psychiatric disorders, such as depression, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder and affects approximately 30% of the US population, and one-eighth of the total population worldwide. This imposes a social burden that amounts to billions of dollars each year.

Zinc has a unique and extensive role in biological processes. Since the discovery of this element as an essential nutrient for living organisms, many diverse biochemical roles for it have been identified. These include roles in enzyme function, nucleic acid metabolism,, cell signaling and apoptosis.Zinc is essential for physiological processes including growth and development, lipid metabolism,brain and immune function.,

Dietary factors that reduce the availability of zinc are the most common cause of zinc deficiency, however, inherited defects can also result in reduced zinc. Both nutritional and inherited zinc deficiency produce similar symptoms, such as dermatitis, diarrhoea, alopecia and loss of appetite. With more prolonged deficiency causing growth impairment and neuropsychological changes such as emotional instability, irritability and depression.

Low intracellular zinc has been found to be associated with DNA damage, oxidative stress, antioxidant defenses, and DNA repair,, and zinc may serve as an important anti-oxidant.

Because of the potential association between zinc and the etiology of neurological diseases, we tested patients with anxiety for plasma zinc concentration, and compared those levels with perceived symptoms, pre and post zinc therapy.

Materials and Methods



Experimental and controls

Serum from individuals with diagnosed anxiety (N = 38; 18 female; mean age 35.1 +/− 19.2 years; mean weight 141.2 +/− 48.8 lbs) and controls (N = 16; 8 female; mean age 41.3 +/− 27.4 years; mean weight 145.3 +/− 43.3 lbs) was obtained from patients presenting at the Health Research Institute/Pfeiffer Treatment Center. There was not a significant difference in age (P = 0.23) or weight (P = 0.77) between experimental and control individuals. Most of individuals with anxiety were diagnosed using The Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety before presenting for treatment at the Pfeiffer Treatment Center, Warrenville, Il*.

When comparing anxiety patients who were not taking drug therapy (N = 20) with those taking therapy (SSRIs (N = 6), anti-anxiety (N = 4), anti-convulsants (N = 2), stimulants (N = 2), blood pressure medication (N = 4), and sedatives (N = 2)), there was no significant difference in Cu (P = 0.636), Zn (P = 0.14904), Cu/Zn (P = 0.555), overall symptoms (P = 0.467) or specific anxiety symptoms (P = 0.841).

Patient consent was obtained from all patients involved in this study and this study was approved by the IRB of the Health Research Institute/Pfeiffer Treatment Center*.


Severity of disease

A modified Hamilton Scale was used to determine the severity of depression. Patients were asked to rate their depressive behavior such as; irritability and anger, lack of ability to focus/concentrate, racing thoughts, trouble sleeping, light sensitivity, migraines, OCD behavior, intrusive thoughts, overall anxiety, disorganization, panic, obsessive behavior, and overall anxiety. The patients were rated on a scale of 0–5 (5 being the most severe) for each of these behaviors. We evaluated the overall severity of anxiety behavior by establishing the mean of all of the scores for each patient.

Zinc and anti-oxidant therapy

Individuals in this study who presented to the Pfeiffer Treatment Center with anxiety were tested for zinc, copper and anti-oxidant levels. Based on deficiencies, they were then prescribed the appropriate dose of anti-oxidants. Pre-therapy patients represent those who were tested when they first presented and were not previously taking any zinc or anti-oxidants. Post-Therapy patients received anti-oxidant therapy (Vitamin C, E, B-6 as well as Magnesium, and Manganese if warranted), and zinc supplementation (as zinc picolinate), daily, for a minimum of 8 weeks.


All experimental and control plasmas were treated in an identical fashion. Blood was drawn into tubes containing EDTA as an anti-coagulant, refrigerated and sent to LabCorp, Naperville Il for separation and analysis.


Copper and zinc serum concentration

Copper and zinc plasma concentration was performed by LabCorp, Inc. (Naperville, IL 60563) using inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, as previously described.


Inferential statistics were derived from t-test with 95% confidence intervals.


Individuals with anxiety had significantly higher plasma levels of Cu (P = 0.0348), Cu/Zn (P = 0.0493) and lower Zn (P = 0.0294) compared to controls (Table 1).