Is there a link between high copper/low zinc levels and postnatal depression and anxiety?
Zinc is one of the most important minerals during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Aside from the importance of zinc in tissue repair (stretch marks, perineal tears and cracked nipples), evidence over the years has indicated it may be an essential nutrient for our mental health.
I have seen some great results in my clinic using zinc supplementation as part of a treatment protocol for anxiety and depression. This is not surprising considering zinc is required for serotonin and GABA synthesis (happy, calming brain chemicals).
This systematic review found evidence to suggest potential benefits in zinc supplementation for depression.
Interestingly, this study found a 24% lower serum zinc level on the 3rd day postpartum, a day commonly known as "third-day blues" day.
When it comes to the link between copper and anxiety, this study found an increased level of copper and decreased zinc levels in people with anxiety. After treatment with zinc and antioxidant supplementation, their symptoms improved significantly.
Copper is an antagonist of zinc
Copper is an antagonist of zinc and vice versa, zinc antagonises copper. This is why the treatment for high copper levels is high dose zinc supplementation.
High levels of copper in the blood may be of concern during the pre and postnatal period.
Copper rises naturally during pregnancy as the oestrogen levels rise and this study found an association between higher serum copper levels and postnatal depression.
Supplementation in pregnancy
More research is clearly warranted in this area. It is a good idea to speak to your health practitioner about supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding. You can also learn more about supplementation during pregnancy in one of my online courses.