Over the years, I’ve read numerous intriguing studies about the role nutrition plays in violent behavior.  Other studies have clearly demonstrated a link between heavy metals and vitamin deficiencies.


A new study from the Netherlands found prisoners given supplements of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 f and omega-6 fatty acids, have the potential to reduce the frequency of violent and aggressive incidents.  Prisoners receiving supplements experienced a significant reduction of violent incidents, over 34 percent, among 200 young adult offenders.


The group receiving a placebo, experienced a 14 per cent increase in the number of reported incidents.


The researchers noted, “The prospect of influencing aggression and rule-breaking behavior with nutrients in moderate doses is important enough to warrant further research. This is particularly true as adequate supplementation may also have beneficial effects on mental health and cognitive functioning.”


Surprisingly, the young men did not report any difference in the number of violent incidents, when asked to rate their health and aggression. The reductions in violent incidents were documented by the prison staff.


“Yet, the results in terms of a substantial reduction in reported incidents seem promising, as this outcome measure in particular may have practical relevance,” wrote Dr. Zaalberg.


This study continues along the lines of one reported in 200, an Oxford University study that also found a 39 per cent reduction in violent behavior among young offenders receiving micronutrients and fatty acids.


“In my view, this could be milestone research, the research that finally makes the world take seriously the connection between diet and mental ill health, in all its forms,” said Prof Winkler.


Professor Crawford noted the association between aggressive behavior and nutrition,  “Makes sense on the basis of evidence of links between major depression, suicide and homicide reported by Dr Joseph Hibblen at the National Institutes of Health in the USA and of course our stuff demonstrating the absolute dependence of the brain on the long chain essential fatty acids.”



Aggressive Behavior
March/April 2010, Volume 36, Issue 2, Pages 117-126
“Effects of nutritional supplements on aggression, rule-breaking, and psychopathology among young adult prisoners”