Most of us who read health news are aware that poor soil quality makes for nutrient deficient crops, which in turn create weak bodies and minds. Yet we compound the problem with a crummy diet. Diets lacking in nutrients especially trace minerals lead not only to physical maladies and impaired learning, but also to antisocial behavior and even violence. It's no coincidence that degenerative disease and crime are rising as IQ and nutritional status decline. (Who, me?)
Let's look at this for the kids' sake. If aggressive behaviour isn't sunny-side-of-the-street, it is not turning on the genetic switches for happiness that can be passed down to the next generation. Denying the next generation happiness by so encumbering them at the outset does civilisation no good. The rising violent crime rate among teenagers is not due primarily to drugs, broken homes or poverty. These kids and many adults typically exhibit pronounced deficiencies of such trace minerals as lithium, chromium and vanadium and are prone to developing a powerful salt or sugar craving. Eating refined sugar and salt to satisfy the craving leaches the minerals necessary to metabolize them and deepens the deficiency.
Journal links aggressive behaviour to junk food
How aggressive behaviors are a manifestation of vitamin deficiency is being studied. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on twenty people eating junk food diets who were found to have biochemical evidence of marginal thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. Their subjects, and particularly the adolescents, were impulsive, highly irritable, aggressive and sensitive to criticism. Following thiamine supplementation, their behavior improved along with laboratory evidence of improved thiamine levels. Other studies revealed that magnesium deficiency may promote aggressive behavior. Low tryptophan ratios were found to be associated with high homicide rates. A group of depressed alcoholics had the lowest tryptophan ratios. Alcohol also badly depletes thiamine, which may somewhat explain an alcoholic's violence.
Overaggressive behaviors can also be provoked by a reaction to common foods. Reactions range from irritability to a psychotic aggressive reaction. In a study published in Lancet, children who had previously been irritable, fretful, quarrelsome and could not get along with others, became happy and social after food eliminations. When they were challenged with the specific foods which had been eliminated, their behavior problems returned.
Vitamins take the edge off edginess
Besides thiamine, magnesium, and tryptophan mentioned above, several other nutrients can be employed to correct behavioural problems due to subclinical deficiency. That is, he hasn't been diagnosed with a clinical observation but it's obvious he'd benefit from some calming. Zinc, found mainly in shellfish and green leafy vegetables, has a calming effect on the central nervous system. Deficiencies are common after the consumption of food and drinks containing tartrazine, a colouring known to disturb behaviour in some youngsters. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are mood regulators, especially calming for women with PMT. Their ability to balance hormones makes them particularly useful for teenagers. Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is important for normal brain function. Deficiency symptoms include hyper-irritability, depression, fatigue and learning difficulties. Calcium and magnesium are natural tranquilizers that help to relieve anxiety and nervousness, tantrums and depression and have been used to combat aggression. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is the anti-stress vitamin and it is involved in the production of neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood.
Even low level supplementation may produce benefits. A double-blind, randomised trial published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2002 suggested that reoffending by juvenile delinquents could be slashed by a quarter if they improved their diets. Some 230 inmates at the young offenders' institution in Aylesbury, Bucks, were assessed over 18 months by researchers from Oxford University. Half were given a commercially available product containing vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, at doses equivalent to the UK reference nutrient intake/RDA, and the other half got placebo capsules. The first group committed 25 per cent fewer offences than the second. The greatest reduction was for serious offences, including violence, where there was a fall of nearly 40 per cent. There was no decline in reoffending for those taking dummy compounds. The authors concluded, antisocial behavior in prisons, including violence, are reduced by the intake of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.
The importance is that this finding is likely to have similar implications for those consuming a poor diet in the community. Who do you know does not take b vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, or ACES?
The bottom line is that aggressive behaviour is on the rise and it's getting to be fairly well known that vitamins and minerals have a stabilizing and calming influence. Maybe we ought to bolster the inherent sweet nature in ourselves and our children with environmental triggers for a sunny side of the street disposition and increased intellect that can be genetically passed as well as permanently improve the individual and society in so doing. It's just good nutrition and good supplements to replace what's missing in our food, in order to help keep us stable. Next time a friend or family member starts acting up, remember to ask yourself if this person be vitamin deficient. It doesn't take much to fix it and you can put it in their food.