The Effects of Nutrients on Stress and Aggression: Integrative Approaches to Behavioral and Emotional Modification

Vimala Alagappan, Ripal Shah, Robert Meisner


As research on the interplay of nutrition and mental health evolves, “nutritional medicine” is attracting new enthusiasm from clinicians across a broad range of clinical subspecialties. In this review, we describe potential relevance of 6 nutrients in particular — Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium, L-tryptophan, and Omega-3 fatty acids — on reducing or preventing the target symptoms of stress and aggression. Briefly: (1) Vitamin A may reduce the physical symptoms of stress, including inflammation, while (2) Vitamin C may reduce psychological distress and attenuate acute mammalian stress-response; stress may (3) increase the body’s demand for Mg and exacerbate Mg deficiency, while Mg deficiency itself may increase vulnerability under particular stressors; (4) Zinc deficiency appears to correlate with psychological adaptive potential; (5) Omega-3 fatty acids may mitigate aggression and anger for stressed mammalians. Tryptophan (6) depletion, finally, appears to correlate with increased aggression. Broadly speaking, as the literature evolves, there increasingly appears to be meaningful correlations between these nutrients and stress and aggression that justifies a call for further research.


Nutrition; Integrative medicine; Mental health; Stress; aggression; Vitamin A; Vitamin C; Zinc; Magnesium; L-tryptophan; Omega-3 fatty acids

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