The Scientific Indian

Road rage in India and Zinc intake

Yesterday’s Hindu newspaper I read at our noisy suburb in Bangalore informs thus:

Is there any relationship between road rage in cities, especially during peak hour traffic, and nutrient deficiency? Yes, says the country’s renowned soil scientist J.C. Katyal, who is Vice-Chancellor of the Choudhary Charan Singh Agricultural University in Haryana.

Speaking to presspersons on the sidelines of the annual convention of the Indian Society for Soil Science (ISSS) on the campus of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Dr. Katyal, who is also president of ISSS, explained that zinc deficiency might contribute to road rage, as lack of this mineral would impair cognitive development and reasoning.

What is interesting is that the root of the problem has been traced to degradation of soil quality.

If the soil lacks nutrients, the agricultural produce grown on it will also suffer from nutrient deficiency and ditto with people who eat these produce, according to him.

An interesting observation, although it may be hard to separate the causes for road rage when there are too many such causes adding generously to the smoldering brain of a Bangalore driver. Inability to eat balanced food is perhaps an indication of the wider problem of mismanagement of resources. In any case, fixing zinc intake is a good start as any other.


  1. #1 Art
    November 30, 2008

    Working in a machine/welding shop I saw a friend’s behavior change. Over a few weeks he gradually became erratic, easy to anger, borderline irrational. Originally a stay-at-home family many type he started going out an drinking into the small hours of the morning. He started driving his car dangerously and taking unnecessary risks.

    He got into a fight at work and was dragged off to the county mental health unit. A smart doc put it together when he saw his occupation listed as a welder. Testing showed he was loaded with manganese while his, I think they said, his calcium, magnesium and zinc levels were low. Evidently these issues change the way the brain processes threats and risks.

    This was tracked back to a defective filter mask he was wearing while welding and possible ventilation issues.

    Once this was corrected he was back to his old rational, homebody self.

    It makes me wonder exactly how much crime, violence and mental illness can be tracked back to imbalances of metals.

    I also, talking to a friend in the mental health profession, he notes that simple nutritional deficiencies may be at the root of many costs associated with mental illness. He noted that simply giving people B-vitamins and fish oil causes a good percentage of raving lunatics to calm down and be come rational.

    These substances are so safe and inexpensive some people have advocated that they be given to all people coming into the crisis unit. If it eliminates the need to physically restrain or prevents institutionalization of even one person it would have paid for itself.

    It all makes me wonder about how much control we really have. How much control do we have of what we feel and think? How much is a consequence of too much or too little of a vitamin, a fatty acid, or a metal. How much free will do we really have?

  2. #2 Selva
    December 6, 2008

    Art, thank you for sharing. With the emerging detailed neuro-biological knowledge, we seem to stand at a point where the notion of ‘free will’ has to be questioned: not just how much of it we have, but also, what really is free will.

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