Anorexia Nervosa, like other eating disorders, is complicated. There is no one solitary cause or treatment for Anorexia Nervosa. However, there is one often over-looked supplement to treatment that needs to be highlighted for the treatment of anorexia and other eating disorders: ZINC.
Simple cases of anorexia which developed in the wake of an illness or period of high stress (such as the death of a loved one) can sometimes be cured by zinc supplementation alone. Even the more complex cases of anorexia nervosa are usually more easily cured when the patient’s serum (blood) zinc levels are brought up to a little above normal levels.
This should really come as no surprise, since the relationship between appetite/digestion and zinc levels has been documented for decades! Zinc also works in tandem with B vitamins in supporting nerve and brain function. Appetite, digestion and mental functions are all involved in anorexia nervosa.
Zinc deficiencies may even be involved in the distorted body images of people suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, since some anorexics report that they no longer feel fat when their zinc levels rise above normal. (Though the anorexic may still consciously hold the belief that his/her body should be thinner than is healthy for his/her body type, the feeling that his/her skeletal-thin body is fat disappears.)
Part of the reluctance to recognize zinc’s role in anorexia and other eating disorders may come from a quirk in the way that zinc is absorbed and utilized by the body. Once the zinc levels drop too low, the body can no longer produce picolinate – a chemical that the body attaches to zinc and other minerals so that they can be absorbed into the blood stream and utilized in the body’s cells. This is because zinc is used in the process of making the picolinate! So if the anorexic is given say, zinc citrate or zinc gluconate (common types of zinc supplements), or even pumpkin seeds or oysters (rich, natural food sources of zinc) the anorexic may not be able to absorb the zinc and reap the benefits. When this happens, the people trying to help the anorexic may erroneously jump to the conclusion that zinc therapy is ineffective, when actually, they were just using the wrong form of zinc.
Oddly enough, even zinc picolinate (zinc supplement with the picolinate already attached to the zinc) doesn’t always raise the levels of zinc that gets into the patient’s cells. For reasons, not-yet-understood, often a liquid zinc supplement: Zinc Sulfate Hydrate, will raise the levels of zinc in the blood and in the cells even when zinc picolinate can’t.
Zinc Sulfate Hydrate also can be used as a cheap zinc deficiency test. People with normal levels of zinc in their bodies, find the taste of zinc sulfate hydrate unpleasantly minerally or soapy. People with low levels of zinc in their bodies find the taste of zinc sulfate hydrate to be pleasantly sweet, or even tasteless – like plain water!
So if you know of someone suffering from Anorexia Nervosa (or other eating disorders) you might take a trip to your local well-stocked health supplement store ( or go online) and buy a bottle of Zinc Sulfate Hydrate. It is inexpensive, and could be the crucial ingredient in curing someone from a dangerous eating disorder!