|Vol. 6, No. 3, 2000 Page 1&3|
Just months after Stephen Schoenthaler reported that nutritional supplements can raise schoolchildren's IQ levels and reduce delinquent behavior (see related article, Crime Times, 2000, Vol. 6, No. 2, Page 3), a separate research group has published a study indicating that supplementation can dramatically improve learning-disabled students' school performance. The findings are of interest to criminologists, because learning disabilities are a very strong risk f factor for delinquency and adult criminality.
Psychiatrist Richard Carlton and colleagues initially conducted an open-label study of the effects of personally tailored nutritional supplements on the school achievement of 20 learning-disabled students. One student dropped out of the initial study due to nausea, but the researchers report that the remaining subjects improved significantly, both academically and behaviorally, within weeks or months of beginning treatment. "Some children gained three to five years in reading compreh hension within the first year of treatment," they note, "and all children in special education classes became main-streamed, and their grades rose significantly."
The researchers next enrolled 12 of their subjects in a one-year double-blind study of the nutrients' effects, after which about half of them remained on the nutrients for at least an additional two years. The subjects all continued to exhibit upward tren nds in academic performance until the group that discontinued the nutrients had been off them for a second year. At that point, Carlton et al. say, "the group off the nutrients. dropped 7.3 points [on a scale evaluating grades and academic placement chang ges] from the previous year, [while] the group that remained on the nutrients continued an upward trend by rising 3.2 points above the previous year." They add, "The declines in grades for the seven children who discontinued nutrients after the end of the e closed trial were so severe that their respective schools took three of them out of the academic track in which they had been placed earlier in the study, and placed them in a vocational track."
Unlike Schoenthaler et al, who found significant IQ increases in their nutrient-treated subjects, Carlton and colleagues did not see IQ gains in supplemented children. Rather, they say, the nutrients helped the children "to approach fulfillment of their c capacity, whatever that may be."
While the researchers initially believed that the gains in their subjects were due to an increase in the raw materials available for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, or to enhanced cellular metabolism and energy production, they note that the long-term m positive effects seen in subjects who stopped taking the nutrients suggest a more permanent effect. They speculate that nutritional supplementation may affect gene expression of proteins that are involved in the formation of dendrites (the branching ext tensions of neurons). "There are reports in the literature," they note, "that when certain nutrients are deficient, dendritic arborization can be impaired."
In addition to improving subjects' academic performance, the researchers say, nutritional supplementation resulted in marked changes in mood and behavior. "For example," they note, "three of the boys and one of the girls had classmates visit at home for t the first time in their lives."
Of the various nutrients tested, the most beneficial appeared to be magnesium, vitamin B6, ascorbic acid, thiamine, folic acid, and zinc. Manganese, initially added to three children's formulas, caused adverse effects including irritability and lack of co oncentration. (Editor's note: see reports on the adverse effects of excess manganese in Crime Times Vol. 5, No. 1, 1999, p. 3, and Vol. 2, No. 2, 1996, p. 3.)
(see related articles, Crime Times, 1999, Vol. 5, No. 1, Page 3; and Crime Times, 1996, Vol. 2, No. 2, Page 3)
"Rational dosages of nutrients have a prolonged effect on learning disabilities," Richard M. Carlton, Gerald Ente, Lila Blum, Nadine Heyman, William Davis, and Sal Ambrosino, Alternative Therapies, Vol. 6, No. 3, May 2000, pp. 85-91. Address: ivcRe
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