Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2004
Publication Date: March 7, 2005
Citation: Penland, J.G., Lukaski, H.C., Gray, J.S. 2005. Zinc affects cognition and psychosocial function of middle-school children [abstract]. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. 19(5):A973. Technical Abstract: Zinc nutrition has been related to motor, cognitive and psychosocial function in very young children and adults, but there have been no studies of older children who may be at risk of zinc deficiency while undergoing rapid growth during puberty. Therefore, we investigated the effects of dietary zinc intakes on cognition and psychosocial function in young adolescents. Two-hundred-nine 7th graders (111 girls and 98 boys) consumed 4 oz fruit juice containing 0, 10 or 20 mg zinc (as gluconate) each school day for 10 weeks. Juice was administered in a double blind manner. Before and after treatment, children were administered a battery of cognitive (attention, perception, memory and reasoning) tasks and teachers completed questionnaires to evaluate psychosocial function. Fortification with 20 mg zinc decreased reaction times by 12% vs 6% for placebo (p<0.002) on a visual memory task, increased percent correct by 9% vs 3% for placebo (p<0.008) on a word recognition task, and increased percent target detections by 6% vs 1% for placebo (p<0.03) on a vigilance task. Psychosocial function was unrelated to zinc treatment except that conduct problems increased by 10% in girls receiving the placebo, with no change in zinc-treated girls (p<0.001). Findings indicate that young adolescents may benefit from increased zinc intakes and underscore the need to further determine the functional roles of zinc nutrition in older children.