Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners. Randomised, placebo-controlled trial

Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;181:22-8. doi: 10.1192/bjp.181.1.22.


Background: There is evidence that offenders consume diets lacking in essential nutrients and this could adversely affect their behaviour.

Aims: To test empirically if physiologically adequate intakes of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids cause a reduction in antisocial behaviour.

Method: Experimental, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial of nutritional supplements on 231 young adult prisoners, comparing disciplinary offences before and during supplementation.

Results: Compared with placebos, those receiving the active capsules committed an average of 26.3% (95% CI 8.3-44.33%) fewer offences (P=0.03, two-tailed). Compared to baseline, the effect on those taking active supplements for a minimum of 2 weeks (n=172) was an average 35.1% (95% CI 16.3-53.9%) reduction of offences (P<0.001, two-tailed), whereas placebos remained within standard error.

Conclusions: Antisocial behaviour in prisons, including violence, are reduced by vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids with similar implications for those eating poor diets in the community.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Trace Elements / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins