Essential Nutrients-Behavior:  Research Article

Essential Nutrients Menu

Influence of Supplementary Vitamins, Minerals and Essential Fatty Acids on Antisocial Behaviour

CITATION:  Gesch, C.B., Hammond, S.M., Hampson, S.E., et al.  (2002).  Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners.  Randomised, placebo-controlled trial.  British Journal of Psychiatry, 181, 2 2-2 8.


Background.  Thereis evidence that offenders consume diets lackingin essentialnutrients andthis could adversely affecttheir behaviour. Aims Totestempiricallyifphysiologically adequateintakes of vitamins,minerals and essential fatty acids cause a reductionin antisocialbehaviour.

Method.   Experimental, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomisedtrialof nutritional supplements on 231young adultprisoners, comparingdisciplinary offencesbefore and during supplementation.

Results.  Comparedwith placebos, those receiving the active capsules committed an average of 26.3% (95% CI 8.3^44.33%) fewer offences (P0.03, two-tailed).Compared to baseline, the effectonthose takingactive supplements foraminimumof 2weeks (n172) was an average 35.1% (95% CI16.3^53.9%) reduction of offences (P50.001, twotailed), whereasplacebosremainedwithin standard error.

Conclusions.   Antisocialbehaviourin prisons, including violence, are reducedby vitamins,minerals and essential fatty acids with similar implications for those eating poordiets inthe community.

Declaration of interest.   The researchwas supported by a grant from the research charityNatural Justice (see Acknowledgements) andmanaged from theUniversityof Surrey.Scotia Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Unigreg Ltd suppliednutritional supplements.


Altman, D.G. (1991) Practical Statistics for Medical Research, p. 296. London: Chapman and Hall.

Benton, D. & Cook, R. (1991) The impact of selenium supplementation onmood. Biological Psychiatry, 29,

Bjork, J. M., Dougherty, D. M.,Moeller, F.G., et al (1999) The effects of tryptophan depletion and loading
on laboratory aggression inmen: time course and a food-restricted control. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 142,

Blonk,M.C., Bilo,H. J.G.,Nauta, J. J. P., et al (1990) Dose-response effects of fish-oil supplementation in
healthy volunteers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 52,120-127.

Bramley, P.N., Easton, A.M. E.,Morley, S., et al (1988) The differentiation of anxiety and depression by
rating-scales. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 77,133-138.

Bunout, D.,Garrido, A., Suazo,M., et al (2000) Effects of supplementationwith folic acid and antioxidant
vitamins on homocysteine levels and LDL oxidation in coronary patients. Nutrition, 16,107-110.

Corrigan, F.M.,Gray, R., Strathdee, A., et al (1994) Fatty acid analysis of blood from violent offenders.
Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 5, 83-92.

Department of Health (1991) Dietary Reference Values for Food Energyand Nutrients for the United Kingdom. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41. London:HMSO.

Golomb,B. A., Stattin,H. &Mednick, S. (2000) Low cholesterol and violent crime. Journal of Psychiatric
Research, 34, 301-309.

Hamazaki,T., Sawazaki, S., Itomura,M., et al (1996) The effects of docosahexaenoic acid on aggression in
young adults. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 97,1129-1133.

Hammond, S.M. (1984) An investigation into the factor structure of the General Aptitude-Test Battery.
Journal of Occupational Psychology, 57, 43-48.

Heiss, L. E. (1995) Changing family patterns inWestern Europe: opportunity and risk factors for adolescent
development. In Psychosocial Disorders inYoung People. Time,Trends and their Causes (eds M.Rutter & D. J. Smith), pp. 104-193.NewYork: John Wiley and Sons.

Hibbeln, J. R.,Umhau, J.C., Linnoila,M., et al (1998) A replication study of violent and nonviolent subjects:
cerebrospinal fluidmetabolites of serotonin and dopamine are predicted by plasma essential fatty acids.
Biological Psychiatry, 44, 243-249.

Holland, B.,Welch, A. A.,Unwin, I. D., et al (1996) McCance and Widdowson’sThe Composition of Foods. 5th
Edition.Cambridge:Royal Society of Chemistry & Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Korhonen, P., Loeys,T.,Goetghebeur, E., et al (2000) Vitamin A and infantmortality: beyond intention-totreat
in a randomized trial. Lifetime Data Analysis, 6, 107-121.

Lawless, J. F. (1987) Negative binomial andmixed Poisson regression. Canadian Journal of Statistics, 15,

Marshal, E. (2000) The shots heard ‘round the world’. Science, 289, 570-574.

Moynahan, E. J. (1976) Zinc deficiency and disturbances of mood and visual behaviour. Lancet, 1, 91.

O’Rourke,M.M. (1994) Anger: Its Measurement and Implications forTreatment.University of Surrey,UK
(Doctoral thesis). 

Roger, D. & Nesshoever,W. (1987) The construction and preliminary validation of a scale formeasuring emotional control. Personality and Individual Differences, 8, 527-534.

Roger, D. & Najarian, B. (1989) The construction and validation of a new scale for measuring emotion control. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 845-853.

Rutter,M. (1995) Causal concepts and their testing. In Psychosocial Disorders inYoung People.Time,Trends and their Causes (edsM.Rutter & D. J.Smith), pp. 8-34.New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Rutter,M ,Tizard, J. & Whitmore, K. (1970) Education, Health and Behaviour. London: Longmans.

Rutter,M, Giller,H. & Hagell,H. (1998) Antisocial Behaviour by Young People.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schauss, A.G. (1978) Differential outcomes among probationers comparing orthomolecular approaches to
conventional casework/counselling. Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry, 8,158-168.

Schoenthaler, S. J., Amos, S., Doraz,W., et al (1997) The effect of randomised vitamin^mineral
supplementation on violent and non-violent antisocialbehavior among incarcerated juveniles. Journal of
Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 7, 343-352.

Smith, D. J. (1995) Youth crime and conduct disorders: trends, patterns and causal explanations. In Psychosocial Disorders inYoung People.Time,Trends and their Causes (eds M.Rutter & D. J. Smith), pp. 389-489.NewYork: JohnWiley and Sons.

Stevens, L. J., Zentall, S. S., Deck, J. L., et al (1995) Essential fatty-acidmetabolismin boys with attentiondeficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62, 761-768.

Stevens, L. J., Zentall, S. S.,  Abate,M. L., et al (1996) Omega 3 fatty acids in boys with behaviour, learning and health problems. Physiology and Behaviour, 59, 915-920.

Stone, R. & Kelner, K. (2000) Violence:No silver bullet. Science, 289, 569.

Virkkunen,M. &Huttunen,M.O. (1982) Evidence for abnormal glucose-tolerance test among violent
offenders. Neuropsychobiology, 8, 30-34.

Walsh,W. J., Isaacson,H. R., Rehman, F., et al (1997) Elevated blood copper/zinc ratios in assaultive young
males. Physiology and Behavior, 62, 327-329.

Zigmond, A. S. & Snaith, R. P. (1983) The hospital anxiety and depression scale. Acta Psychiatrica
Scandinavica, 67, 361-370.