Liu 2005: Biosocial bases of aggressive and violent behavior — implications for nursing studies

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International Journal of Nursing Studies, 2005 Feb;42(2):229-41

In this review, it is noted that deficiencies in cholesterol, tryptophan (an amino acid), protein, iron, or zinc are each connected to an increase in aggression as well as cognitive and behavior problems.  During pregnancy, it appears that inadequate diet during the second trimester, when the baby’s brain is developing rapidly, is particularly likely to increase the baby’s development of a personality disorder.  Prenatal exposure to smoking, alcohol and many other drugs are also risk factors that predispose the baby to develop personality problems and tendencies to violence, both in childhood and into adulthood.

While children with ADHD show cognitive and behavioral improvement when treated with iron supplements even if they were not deficient, mineral deficiencies may also have an indirect effect on behavior by changing the absorption or activity of toxic metals.  For example, added calcium can block the harmful effect of both lead and manganese.

Liu and Wuerker also discuss the effects of brain damage, hormonal factors, teen pregnancy, parental stress, low physiological arousal as a predictive factor, and the need for more biosocial research.


Although the effects of food additives on mood or behavior is not covered in this review at all, there is still much information here.  Indeed, the interaction of various deficiencies and toxic exposures may well explain why some people are more vulnerable than others to petrochemical components in their food and environment.

For example, there is the intriguing old study by Ershoff (1977) in which massive doses of Yellow 5 or Yellow 6 killed 50% of the rats fed a “purified” diet, but not those fed a diet including psyllium seed powder, carrot root powder, etc.   Neither added vitamins alone nor plain purified cellulose,  however, were helpful.

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