Get access

A double-blind trial of the effect of docosahexaenoic acid and vitamin and mineral supplementation on aggression, impulsivity, and stress


Correspondence to: D. Benton, Department of Psychology, University of Swansea, Swansea SA2 8PP Wales, UK. Tel: ++ 44 1792 295607; Fax: ++ 44 1792 295679. E-mail:



Although a series of well-designed studies have reported that supplementation with vitamins/minerals and omega-3 fatty acids reduces the incidence of aggressive behavior, to date, the relative contribution and interaction between these nutrients has not been examined. The aim was therefore to consider the relative contribution of supplementation with multivitamins/minerals and/or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on laboratory-based measures of aggression, impulsivity, and stress.


In a double-blind randomized trial, four groups of young adult men without a history of aggressive or impulsive behavior received a placebo (n = 42), multivitamins/minerals (n = 43), DHA (n = 47) or both (n = 41) for 3 months.


With the Picture-Frustration Task, DHA decreased the display of aggressive behavior. DHA also decreased impulsivity as measured using the GoStop Impulsivity Paradigm that examines the ability to inhibit already initiated behavior. Although a multivitamin and mineral supplement did not influence these measures, it did decrease perceived stress.


The influence of supplementation on aggression and impulsivity can be conveniently studied in a sample without a history of antisocial behavior, using laboratory-based measures. No evidence was found of a synergistic interaction between vitamins/minerals and DHA. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.