Anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive fear or avoidance of perceived threats that can be persistent and debilitating. Diet is a modifiable risk factor that may contribute to the pathogenesis or treatment of anxiety, depending on diet quality. Essential dietary minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, and selenium are critical components for numerous biological proteins and play a role in preserving both physical and mental health. A peer-reviewed scientific literature review on this topic written by Salem College students and faculty was recently published in the journal Dietetics. This presentation will highlight the collaboration between coauthors, the process of scientific peer review, and will include a summary of major findings regarding the influence of zinc, copper, iron, and selenium on anxiety symptoms based on the latest scientific evidence.
Dr. Melissa Totten is the Director of the Nutrition Program at Salem College and Associate Professor of Chemistry and Nutrition. She teaches general chemistry, biochemistry, and a variety of food and nutrition courses. She received her BS in chemistry at Ithaca College, MS in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and PhD in nutrition at UNC Greensboro. Prior to Salem College, Dr. Totten worked as a formulation chemist and project supervisor at National Starch and Chemical (now Henkel Adhesives) in New Jersey and as a product development chemist at Syngenta in North Carolina. While working in the chemical industry, she was awarded several US and worldwide patents for innovative developments in food-packaging adhesives. She also taught chemistry and mathematics within the North Carolina Community College system for over ten years. Dr. Totten has published several peer-reviewed scientific research articles on the topic of how diet impacts the brain and behavior and plans to continue research in the field of nutritional biochemistry at Salem College.