In the US, men have a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer, and for women the risk is 1 in 3.

Micronutrients can prevent mutation and cancer
                                                                                                    A paper (J Nucleic Acids 2010 Sep 22; pii 725071 and also in the prestigious peer reviewed Pubmed) from the Nutrition and Metabolism Center at the Children´s Hospital, Oakland, California (Ames B N ) has summarised three of their recent research studies and concluded that optimising micronutrient intake will in turn optimise metabolism, decrease DNA damage and result in less cancer as well as other degenerative diseases associated with ageing.   The three studies looked at

  1. The delay of mitochondrial decay through ageing and free-radical damage could be minimised by supplementation with lipoic acid and acetyl carnitine.
  2. How even modest micronutrient deficiencies (common in much of the population) accelerate molecular aging, including DNA damage and mitochondrial decay. This work included an in-depth analysis of vitamin K that suggests the importance of achieving optimal micronutrient intake for longevity.
  3. The finding that a loss of enzyme function can result from protein deformation and loss of function due to an age-related decline in membrane fluidity or mutation. The loss of enzyme function can be compensated by a high dietary intake of any of the B vitamins.

Researchers concluded that ´optimising micronutrient intake could have a major effect on the prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases of ageing

The Effect of Micronutrient Deficiencies on Child Growth: A Review of Results from Community-Based Supplementation Trials

Growth retardation is highly prevalent in developing countries and is associated with several adverse outcomes throughout life. Inadequate intakes of dietary energy and protein and frequent infections are well-known causes of growth retardation. However, the role of specific micronutrient deficiencies in the etiology of growth retardation has gained attention more recently. Micronutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent in low-income countries, and the most probable causes are low content in the diet and poor bioavailability. More than half of preschool children are anemic, and an estimated 75 million and 140 million  preschool children have clinical and subclinical vitamin A deficiencies, respectively. Less information is available on the prevalence of zinc deficiency, although it has been estimated recently that about half of the world’s population is at risk of inadequate intake of absorbable zinc.

Attained height is the result of the interaction between genetic endowment and both macro- and micronutrient availability during the growth period. Longitudinal growth occurs through a process of cell proliferation, the addition of new cells to the growth plate of the bone and hypertrophy, resulting in the expansion of the growth plate . Although the control of bone growth in its different phases is not entirely understood, the key roles of growth hormone  (GH)3 and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) have been identified. IGF-I receptors are found predominantly in proliferating bone chondrocytes, and IGF-I itself stimulates synthesis of collagen and proteoglycans. These physiological functions explain the role of IGF-I in linear growth. Furthermore, GH itself and its effect on IGF-I synthesis exert a direct effect on growth.

Nutrition plays a key role in the control of linear growth through a variety of mechanisms. Evidence from animal models indicates that energy and protein restriction reduces IGF-I plasma concentration, which returns to normal after replenishment. The impact of reduced protein intake appears to be larger than that observed with energy restriction. The association between nutritional status and the IGF-I system also has been observed in humans: IGF-I is reduced during acute protein deficiency (kwashiorkor) and protein-energy malnutrition in children. Some micronutrients also affect the IGF-I system. For example, it is well documented that zinc deficiency in rats causes not only growth retardation but also a decrease in both IGF-I plasma concentration and GH receptors, which return to normal after zinc repletion. Additionally, through its influence on the GH/IGF-I system, zinc deficiency has been observed to affect bone metabolism. The role of zinc in growth also may be explained in part through its participation in DNA synthesis.

Studies on rats also have shown similar decreases in plasma IGF-I concentrations with depletion of potassium, magnesium or thiamine, which return to normal after repletion of these nutrients. Copper also is involved in growth through its role in cross-linking collagen fibers, and manganese deficiency is associated with skeletal abnormalities, including retarded growth, which may be mediated through defects in proteoglycan physiology in the growth plate. Vitamin D and calcium deficiencies also affect bone development, as manifested through the condition known as rickets.

Vitamin A was first identified as the growth-promoting factor “A.” Studies in the 1920s–1930s demonstrated arrested growth, especially of weight in rats, after acute vitamin A depletion . However, even today effects of vitamin A on linear growth, bone formation and body composition in animals are less clear Judisch et al.  found that anemic children were small for their age and that their growth rates accelerated when treated with iron. Since then, however, evidence for the effect of iron deficiency on growth has been equivocal.

Deficiencies of some micronutrients, such as iron, magnesium and zinc, result in anorexia . Therefore, these nutrient deficiencies also may contribute to growth retardation indirectly by reducing the intake of other growth-limiting factors, such as energy and protein. Also, several micronutrients, including zinc, iron and vitamin A, are associated with immune function and risk of morbidity, which in turn affect growth . Therefore, micronutrient deficiencies may have an indirect effect on growth by increasing the prevalence or severity of morbidity and anorexia.

Micronutrients have a substantial impact on a woman’s health throughout her entire life. Every woman needs a constant, balanced, and adequate supply of all essential nutrients throughout her lifetime

Micronutrients have a substantial impact on a woman’s health throughout her entire life. Every woman needs a constant, balanced, and adequate supply of all essential nutrients throughout her lifetime.

Many women do not get enough of the micronutrients they need, however. Both in the U.S. and worldwide, inadequate intakes are far too common. Deficiencies of the following

nutrients are particularly common:
• Vitamin D • B vitamins • Calcium
• Zinc • Iron

In addition to low dietary intake, other factors can contribute to micronutrient deficiencies,

• genetic factors

• poor absorption

• drug-nutrient interactions

• acute and chronic health conditions

• stress

• normal processes of aging

The fact is that many women cannot get adequate amounts of some nutrients without supplementing their diets.

Research Shows the Importance of Micronutrients to Women’s Health
Breast Health

Breast health issues are one of the most common reasons why women consult their health care practitioners. Research suggests that several micronutrients play key roles in breast health, including iodine, B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C.2–4 Uterine and Ovarian Health
Micronutrient status plays a major role in the overall health and function of the uterus and ovaries, which can be affected by a variety of health issues. Research suggests that supplementation with B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D may support uterine and ovarian health.

Menstrual Cycle Health
Many women experience physical and emotional challenges relating to their menstrual cycle, and research suggests that several micronutrients support a healthy menstrual cycle—including increased B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc.7–9 Urinary Tract Health Women are at greater risk for urinary tract health issues than men. Statistically at least one-third of American women will develop urinary tract health issues, which also become more frequent with age. Recent research found that adequate vitamin D intake may protect against urinary health issues.

Anxiety and Mental Health

Mental health challenges are much more prevalent in women than men, and research continues to investigate the importance of vitamins and minerals for mental health. Higher intakes of vitamin D and magnesium have been associated with improved mental health and function.11,12

Birth Control / Contraceptives
Oral contraceptives have been shown to lower levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, and zinc in the body, causing researchers to recommend that women taking contraceptives should pay close attention to
their vitamin and mineral intake and consider supplementation.
Conception and Pregnancy Many women know the importance of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, but recent research also emphasizes the importance of micronutrient status in the time period before conception. Micronutrient deficiencies can also negatively impact fertility. B vitamins, vitamin D, iodine, selenium, antioxidants, iron, and vitamin A have been shown to be key nutrients in fertility and maternal, fetal, and infant health.

Postpartum Mood

Postpartum mood challenges are common—affecting at least 12–16% of mothers. Studies have linked low intakes of micronutrients with increased incidence of mood issues, and have suggested that supplementation can help maintain healthy mood in postpartum women. B vitamins, selenium, vitamin D, and magnesium have been suggested to promote healthy mood. Menopausal and Bone Health
Menopause can affect women’s nutritional needs, and research has shown that B vitamins and vitamin D are particularly important. Minerals are also crucial after menopause, since one of the most significant changes associated with perimenopause and post menopause is a decrease in mineral
levels, which can negatively impact bone health in particular. Magnesium, zinc, and calcium are all important minerals to support postmenopausal bone health.

1. Seibel M. Fertil Steril 1999;72(4).
2. Ghent W, et al. Can J Surg 1993; 35(5):453–60.
3. Zhang SM. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol 2004;16(1):19–25.
4. Lazzeroni M, et al. Breast 2011;20(Suppl 3):S36–41.
5. Killicdag EB, et al. Hum Reprod 2005;20(6):1521–8.
6. Firouzabadi Rd, et al. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2012;18(2):85–8.
7. P.O. Chocano-Bedoya, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2011 May;93(5):1080–6.
8. De Souza MC, et al. J Womens Health Gend Based Med
9. Abraham G. J Reprod Med 1983;28:446–64.
10. O Hertting, et al. PLoS One 2010;Dec 14;5(12):e15580.
11. Zender R, et al. Nurs Clin N Am 2009;44(3):355–364.
12. Murphy P, et al. J Midwifery Women’s Health 2008;53:440–446.
13. Veninga KS. J Nurse Midwifery 1984;29(6):386–90.

14. Webb JL. J Reprod Med 1980;25(4):150–6.

15. Allen LH. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81(5):1206S–1212S.

16. Davison KM, et al. Can J Psychiatry 2012;57(2):85–92.
17. Leung BM, et al. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109(9):1566–75.
18. Mokhber N, et al. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med
19. Jacka FN, et al. J Affect Disord in press 2012.
20. Seibel MM. Fertil Steril 1999;72(4):579–91.
21. Grochans E, et al. Magnes Res 2011;24(4):209–14.
22. Chapuy M, et al. Br Med J 1994;308:1081–82.
23. Stendig-Lindberg G, et al. Magnes Res 1993;6:155–163.

Micronutrient Deficiencies a Major Cause of DNA Damage

Micronutrient Deficiencies a Major Cause of DNA Damage


University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-3202, USA

ABSTRACT: Deficiencies of the vitamins B12, B6, C, E, folate, or niacin, or of iron or zinc mimic radiation in damaging DNA by causing single- and doublestrand breaks, oxidative lesions, or both. The percentage of the population of the United States that has a low intake (<50% of the RDA) for each of these eight micronutrients ranges from 2% to 20+ percent. A level of folate deficiency causing chromosome breaks occurred in approximately 10% of the population of the United States, and in a much higher percentage of the poor. Folate deficiency causes extensive incorporation of uracil into human DNA (4 million/cell), leading to chromosomal breaks. This mechanism is the likely cause of the increased colon cancer risk associated with low folate intake. Some evidence, and mechanistic considerations, suggest that vitamin B12 and B6 deficiencies also cause high uracil and chromosome breaks. Micronutrient deficiency may explain, in good part, why the quarter of the population that eats the fewest fruits and vegetables (five portions a day is advised) has about double the cancer rate for most types of cancer when compared to the quarter with the highest intake. Eighty percent of American children and adolescents and 68% of adults do not eat five portions a day. Common micronutrient deficiencies are likely to damage DNA by the same mechanism as radiation and many chemicals, appear to be orders of magnitude more important, and should be compared for perspective. Remedying micronutrient deficiencies is likely to lead to a major improvement in health and an increase in longevity at low cost.

Fighting Crime With Micronutrients

Diet and Violence

Does diet affect our criminal behavior?
Published on May 2, 2011 by Emily Deans, M.D. in Evolutionary Psychiatry 

What would you think if I told you that young people today likely committed violent, criminal acts in part due to poor nutrition.  What if they continued those violent acts in prison as the poor nutrition continued?  Reserve judgment for now.  This is science – let’s see what the data tells us.  My theory is that our relatively nutrient-poor modern diets contribute to a great deal of modern psychopathology.

Over the past decade or so, several groups of researchers have done some decent work in this area, and (for once in the nutritional-type psychiatry literature) I can look at a randomized controlled trial of good size and design that was actually replicated.

The modern era of good studies begins with Oxford nutrition and criminology researcher, Bernard Gesch. Back in 2002, he published a (full free text) study entitled “Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behavior of young adult prisoners.” In this study, 231 (young, male, adult, prisoner) volunteers agreed to receive a daily vitamin, mineral, and essential fatty acid supplementation or placebo. The average length of the supplementation was about 142 days, and a number of measures were taken before and during the active phase, including psychological testing, reports of violent acts, and reports of disciplinary action. Prisoners were randomized in part based on baseline disciplinary status and their progress in the “prison regime.”

The results? The average number of “disciplinary incidents per 1000 person-days” dropped from 16 to 10.4 in the active group (p<0.001), which is a 35% reduction, whereas the placebo group only dropped by 6.7%. Especially violent incidents in the active group dropped by 37%, and in the placebo group only 10.1%. That’s a pretty impressive finding, really. Currently, Gesch is working on a study of 1000 prisoners in 3 different UK prisons for a 3 year trial, including blood chemistry analysis to see what the baseline levels of micronutrients are in the prisoners, and also more cognitive testing, designed to answer some questions the earlier study couldn’t answer.

However, luckily for us (as the newer Gesch results have yet to be published), a Dutch research team led by Zaalberg repeated the experiment (more or less) in “Effects of Nutritional Supplementation on Aggression, Rule-Breaking, and Psychopathology Among Young Adult Prisoners.” The researchers note that behavior issues have been linked to deficiencies in omega 3 fatty acids, and that low levels of magnesium and zinc are also associated with hyperactive behavior, impaired brain development, and cognitive dysfunction. Check out the quote from the study:

The mechanisms underlying potential associations between nutrition and behavior, however, are not yet clearly established. Although a clear comprehensive theory is lacking, several findings do offer some clues on the plausibility of dietary interventions. Epidemiological research, for instance, shows that major changes in dietary patterns over time have taken place, especially in industrialized world during the last century [Cordain et al., 2005; Crawford et al., 1999; Muskiet, 2005; Simopoulos, 1999]. These changes resulted in (micro)nutrient intakes that are significantly lower than in the ancient, Paleolithic diet. Indeed, some ecological studies show correlations between diet and behavioral outcomes [Christensen and Christensen, 1988; Hibbeln, 2001; Peet, 2004], including criminal behavior [Hibbeln, 2001]. A major limitation of epidemiological studies is, however, the impossibility of making causal inferences. For this reason, the findings mentioned above must be judged with caution and experimental confirmation is needed.

(I love these researchers already!) They did this trial specifically to see if they could replicate Gesch’s work. Only they made some modifications in their supplement – specifically leaving out linoleic acid “because of its abundance in the Dutch diet”, and using larger capsules that could include more bioavailable forms of minerals, so there was more magnesium (300mg of Mg citrate vs 30mg (of ?) in the Gesch trial). They also halved the amount of vitamin D (from 400 IU to 200 IU) in the supplement (but did not specify why). They also increased doses of omega 3 fatty acids compared to Gesch, inline with newer research on the effects of omega 3s on the brain. No one supplemented with micro doses of lithium, despite some interesting data on low doses of lithium and behavior.

In all, 221 young male prisoners completed the study. Many dropped out, often due to transfer to another prison or being released. Of the completers, numbers of violent events in the active group dropped 34%, whereas incidents in the control group increased 14%. The overall number of incidents was lower (11 per 1000 person-days) in the Dutch prison compated to the UK one, but the percentage change was still significant. There were no significant differences in any of the cognitive, personality, and behavioral testing measures used, just the actual incidents. Which is interesting. Because you can’t figure out, from this data, why the incidents decreased. If you could say – oh, look, impulsivity and attentional measures improved, then you could say that’s why the behavior is better. But they didn’t improve. Which means maybe the cognitive measures aren’t very good, or the effect was too subtle to catch. Well, I know a prison warden cares more about decreasing reported numbers of violent incidents in a prison compared than decreasing the psychologic testing measures of impulsivity.

One problem with this second study is that at the beginning, 51% of the prisoners guessed wrong as to whether they were receiving active vs. placebo pill. By the end, only 25% guessed wrong, suggesting the blind was somehow partially broken (perhaps by smell of the pills?). Violent incidents were measured by the prison staff, it is unknown whether the prisoners told the staff if they suspected active or placebo pills. So keep that in mind when interpreting the results.

Here is the Dutch researchers’ conclusion:

To summarize, 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. This study, however, did not confirm this association, except for some marginal trends in this direction. Yet, as the found decrease in the outcome measure-reported incidents and rule-breaking-is in line with the earlier British prison study of Gesch et al., we feel that further research on the association between dietary status and violent behavior is warranted.

What do I think?  Well, we now have evidence from two decently-sized randomized controlled trials of adding a multivitamin/multimineral/essential fatty acid supplement to normal prison fare. The trials were done about 8 years apart and in different countries, yet came out with a similar conclusion. Actual violent/discipline-requiring incidents committed by the prisoners who took the supplements was reduced by about 1/3 compared to pre-supplement days, and in one study the placebo-taking prisoners had an increase in violent events, whereas the other study showed not much change in the placebo group.

My conclusion – practically speaking, I hope that prisoners in the US get a supplement. I don’t care if it is the best pharmaceutical grade supplement on the planet, a month of supplementation can’t be more costly than a couple of days in prison. And total number of days in prison and parole and solitary and all those situations are in part determined by prisoner behavior, I imagine. I’m guessing that prisoners receive the most horrendous, cheap, grain-and-soy and margarine foods imaginable. We have to “get tough on crime” after all. Our tax dollars at work.

“Decades of studies by Schoenthaler and others have supported a connection between nutrition and violence, but for a variety of reasons-some scientific, others political-it hasn’t yet translated into policy.”

But let’s step back from pragmatism for a moment. Here’s the real issue with the science I pursue, at least in the eyes of the medical establishment (also from the Science article):

“This field has seen a lot of exaggerated claims and not enough solid placebo-controlled research,” says Eugene Arnold, a psychiatrist and former director of the Nisonger Center at Ohio State University, Columbus. Studies have shown that “there clearly is a connection” between nutrients and behavioral disorders-for example, between nutrition and depression- but rigorous research has been the exception, he says. Most studies of the effects of nutrition on antisocial behavior are dismissed because of poor experimental design. And Arnold notes that misleading claims by the booming nutrient supplement industry have brought the taint of pseudoscience to those studying diet and behavior. “Even good scientists in this field have been treated as guilty by association,” he says.

Gesch began working with young offenders in the 80s as a social worker. He would invite groups over for home-cooked meals, (the goal being that the atmosphere would help them open up and share their troubles) and Gesch noticed that after a while, the kids would be “transformed…

…becoming healthier and often abandoning the antisocial behaviors that had gotten them into trouble. He began to believe that shedding their scattershot diets of junk food was central to the behavioral shift, perhaps even more so than the family-like socializing. “

Finally he was able to obtain funding for his 2002 study, now replicated, and at the same time Gesch gathered data for a second paper on how food choices of prisoners affected actual daily intake of nutrients. He found (not surprisingly) that, when they got the chance, prisoners would buy food like peanuts, chips, candy and cookies from the prison store, which would add to their daily intake of omega-6 oils, trans fats, grains, and sugar. In addition, though the prison diets were designed by institutional dietitians, most had suboptimal amounts of vitamin D (even compared to the lowly 400 IU recommended for people with little sun) and selenium, and the vegetarian and Muslim menus often had some suboptimal B vitamins and total calories.

Just want to mention here Schoenthaler’s randomized controlled trial from 2000, of 80 six-twelve year old schoolchildren who had previously been disciplined at school in “working class” Hispanic neighborhoods of Phoenix – Schoenthaler notes that previous randomized controlled trials of supplementation of the RDA for prisoners resulted in a 40% decrease in number of violent acts – his results were a 47% decrease in violent acts among the supplemented kids compared to the placebo controls. I’d call that more replication. And a call for some serious multivitamin/multimineral/EFA supplementation action on a large scale in institutions such as prisons, especially where relatives are often not allowed to bring in outside food.

Of course, nutrition is only a part of the larger problem of violence and crime. But in institutions, it seems like a relatively 30-40% controllable part, if only common sense would prevail.

In the larger picture, yes, nutrition affects the brain.  We need to be eating nutrient-rich, wholesome, real food the vast majority of the time, and any government or economic intervention that affects our food will also affect our brains and behavior.  It behooves us all to consider carefully what we feed ourselves and our children.  Personally, I trust the track record of evolution more than the USDA, a government agency designed to promote the consumption of American-produced grains.  The stakes are high.  My only advice is – do your reading before you pass judgment.