It only takes Michael West a deceptive seventy-nine pages to write, “How to Increase your Child’s Intelligence and Academic Success -Through the use of Vitamins-Minerals”. However, the results of his work argue strongly for offering vitamin supplementation in the school meal programs. Mr. West begins his examination of vitamins on the cellular level in the brain and works his way out and into the food chain and back to the soil. He gives an explanation of the makeup of the brain tissue, and the vitamin-mineral bath these molecules and microscopic structures of dendrites, axons and synapses, need to function in the best possible way. These are the elements of consciousness itself. When they are damaged or stunted, the essence of the being is changed. In a scholarly way, Mr. West, a teacher in the New York public school system, gives examples and citations which support his analysis.
In one case Mr. West writes, “Chavez and Martinez (1979) administered an experiment among children of the Jorge Nuchita Community which they described as one of the poorest communities in Mexico. They compared poorly nourished children to children who received nutritional supplementation.
Here is how Chavez and Martinez described the nonsupplemented and supplemented children: “At 36 weeks, which is when a child begins to be active, the nonsupplemented child tried to clutch the mother and in open-field tests frequently showed great anxiety and fear when left in middle of the checkerboard pattern on the floor…In general, the behavior of the nonsupplemented children may he defined as quiet, reserved, and timid (p 248).
The method of sampling…showed that at 72 weeks of age the nonsupplemented child rarely talked and very rarely played. Fifty-five percent of the time the child was quiet, close to his mother, and at times was clutching her skirt (P 250).”
“For an extended period, even up to the age of 3, the child spent much of his time asleep in his cradle in the darkness of his home, very often with his face covered by a netting, or wrapped up and carried on his mother’s shoulder (p 250).”
About the supplemented children Chavez and Martinez said: “The supplemented children exhibited important differences from 24 weeks of age. For example, they slept less during the day, were not resigned to remaining in the cradle, even when rocked, and preferred to stay out of doors. Other aspects, in which observation through sampling…showed differences, were revealed when supplemented children, after 24 weeks of age, refused to be carried on their mothers’ backs or to be rolled up in the ‘rebozo,’ and preferred to be free, playing in the yard with their brothers and sisters (p 248).”
Chavez and Martinez (1979) summarize their observations by saying: “The design, to a great extent made it possible to prove the hypothesis that ‘food modifies behavior.’ It also confirmed our belief that insufficient nutrition is the principle factor of a deprived environment, affecting the personality, limiting it to a passive, negative, and dependent one (OTP emphasis) (p 252).”
Barrett and Frank (1987) conclude in a way that makes it unnecessary for me to say more about malnutrition and behavior. They said: “If is clear that when a child receives insufficient food at any period in development, behavior is affected. When the deprivation occurs during infancy, we see immediate behavioral disturbances. The consequences of long term energy deficit are seen most clearly for those behavior attributes usually described as ‘motivational or affecting ‘performance’.”
Mr. West explains that even if you feed your child in a healthy way, modern farming methods deplete the soil of nutrients making less available for the plants. The nutritional value of the food is then decreased more through processing techniques and time in transit and storage. What’s left to be eaten is filling but lacking in the basic elements of health. Your child may be eating all day and still be starving his or her body of elements that are key to healthy development. But this starvation is not seen by the shriveling of skin and bones. This starvation is expressed through the shriveling of consciousness and hope. The symptoms vary. Deficiency in B-1 leads to apathy, poor memory, depression; deficiency in B-5 leads to depression, insomnia; deficiency in Calcium leads to nervous system disorders. The list is a very long one. Additionally, there are substances we eat that don’t even give a pretense to health. Dr. Gerald Deas, the renown “People’s Doctor”, frequently cites the popular “quarter waters” as a source of asthma-inducing chemicals. Sometimes these chemicals come in waves, as during the Halloween toxic assault of multi-colored, multi-flavored sweets. The ingredients on the sides of those candy bags only add to the frights of the day.
We will give Mr. West’s conclusions and notes on how to help your child in Part 2 of the review in December.
“Increase your Child’s Intelligence” is published by Heri Ab Corp. in Brooklyn. Contact: Ms. Obi (718) 230-5605.
ur Child and Intelligence