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Effects of zinc supplementation on cognitive function in healthy middle-aged and older adults: the ZENITH study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2007

Elizabeth A. Maylor*
Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
Ellen E. A. Simpson
School of Psychology and Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK
David L. Secker
Cambridge Cognition Limited, Tunbridge Court, Tunbridge Lane, Bottisham, Cambridge CB5 9DU, UK
Nathalie Meunier
National Institute for Agronomic Research, Clermont-Ferrand, France
Maud Andriollo-Sanchez
Laboratoire de Nutrition, Vieillissement et Maladies Cardiovasculaires, Faculté de Pharmacie, Domaine de la Merci, 38706 La Tronche Cedex, France
Angela Polito
National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, Rome, Italy
Barbara Stewart-Knox
School of Psychology and Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK
Chris McConville
School of Psychology and Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK
Jacqueline M. O'Connor
School of Psychology and Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK
Charles Coudray
National Institute for Agronomic Research, Clermont-Ferrand, France
*Corresponding author: Professor Elizabeth A. Maylor, fax +44 24 765 24225, email
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A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled design was employed to investigate the effects of Zn supplementation on cognitive function in 387 healthy adults aged 55–87 years. Several measures of visual memory, working memory, attention and reaction time were obtained using the Cambridge Automated Neuropsychological Test Battery at baseline and then after 3 and 6 months of 0 (placebo), 15 or 30 mg Zn/d. Younger adults (<70 years) performed significantly better on all tests than older adults (>70 years), and performance improved with practice on some measures. For two out of eight dependent variables, there were significant interactions indicating a beneficial effect (at 3 months only) of both 15 and 30 mg/d on one measure of spatial working memory and a detrimental effect of 15 mg/d on one measure of attention. Further work is required to establish whether these findings generalise to older adults in poorer mental and physical health and with less adequate Zn intake and status than the present sample.

Research Article
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2006


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