Taking vitamin supplements that contain folate, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and zinc is one way that many Americans try to improve their cardiovascular and neural health. The latter mineral may actually have something to do with proper neurological function, as explained in a recent study published in the journal Neuron.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology monitored how zinc flows through the brain’s nerve cells and determined that this element plays a vital role in speeding neural processing.
The team first became curious about this phenomenon after noticing that many consumers buy zinc supplements to improve mood or blunt nervous tension. They were aware that special organelles in nerve cells store up zinc for impulse transmission, but what happens when these cells have too little zinc?
After conducted tests on mice, the group concluded that the element enhances neural communication and appears to play a role in memory formation.
“Carefully controlling zinc’s regulation of communication between these nerve cells is critical to formation of memories,” lead author James McNamara concluded. He added that too much zinc might be harmful, so consumers should take modest amounts.