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Vitamin and mineral supplements increase intelligence.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Increase Intelligence

A letter to the British medical journal, The Lancet, contained seven letters signed by sixteen authors, all critical of a single report which had been published earlier. What had excited this controversy? Was it a report wherein it was claimed a dangerous new drug had been found to cure arthritis? Was it a report claiming lowering cholesterol levels would decrease the incidence of coronary disease? It was none of these. What aroused the anger of eleven nutritional scientists, two statisticians and three others was a conclusion by David Benton and Gwilym Roberts (1988) that vitamin and mineral supplements increased intelligence of school children not considered to be nutritionally deprived. The letters were charged with emotion. So much so that many of the criticisms were 100 percent off the mark and did not even address the main conclusions of Benton and Roberts.

Benton and Roberts completed a double blind experiment on sixty children. Thirty were given a vitamin/mineral supplement containing the following: bioflavonoids 50 mg; biotin 100 mcg; choline bitartrate 70 mg; folic acid 100 mcg; inositol 30 mg; niacin 50 mg; pantothenic acid 50 mg; para-aminobenzoic acid 10 mg; pyridoxine (B6) 12 mg; thiamine (B1) 3.9 mg; riboflavin (B2) 5 mg; vitamin A 375 mcg; vitamin B12 10 mcg; vitamin C 500 mg; vitamin D 3 mct; vitamin E 70 IU; vitamin K 100 mcg; calcium gluconate 100 mg; chromium 0.2 mg; magnesium 7.6 mg; manganese 1.5 mg; molybdenum 0.1 mg; iodine 50 mcg; iron 1.3 mg; and zinc 10 mg. Thirty were given placebo. The last group of thirty took no capsules.

After eight months there was no significant difference between the groups on verbal intelligence scores. However, only the supplemented group increased non-verbal intelligence scores (P=less than 0.01). Non-verbal I.Q. increased from 111 to 120, while with placebo it remained unchanged at 109. Verbal intelligence is a measure of an individual's unique cultural, educational and environmental experiences.

Non-verbal intelligence is considered to be innate, or biological in nature; the answers do not require general information and vocabulary.

The growth curve of non-verbal intelligence parallels other physical factors such as brain weight. Improved nutrition would be expected to affect non-verbal I.Q. first, but later with the interplay of an enriched environment, verbal I.Q. would also be expected to rise. The critics were angry because the authors claimed the supplements increased non-verbal intelligence.

Seven of the critics were fearful that physicians and the public would be misled and might even (horrors) give their children vitamin and mineral supplements. They even referred to the notion the children would be adversely affected.

Harrell et al. (1981) reported similar findings when mentally retarded children were given vitamin and mineral supplements plus thyroid. This paper stirred up a hornets' nest. So much so that seven attempts have been reported to repeat the Harrell study, Davis (1987), yet none of the seven repeated the Harrell study. They used a different type of population of children and did not use thyroid. It seems so difficult for critics to really repeat work of which they are critical.

These two studies lead to two conclusions: 1. That even normal children on the usual diet are more intelligent

after they are given very moderate doses of vitamins and minerals. 2. Mentally retarded children need more vitamins and minerals.

Orthomolecular nutritionists will not be surprised. Perhaps other workers involved in children's education and well-being will be stimulated by these two studies to examine seriously the role of nutrition and supplements, so they too need no longer be surprised or angry when someone reports these innocuous measures make children healthier and thus more intelligent.
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Author:Hoffer, Abram
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Sep 22, 1989
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