Zinc is an essential trace metal, serving well over 300 actions in the body. A zinc deficiency has long been recognised as playing a role in a number of physiological disorders, including dermatological conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne; poor wound healing, delayed sexual maturity and chronic immunodeficiency. Zinc has been found in high concentrations in the brain hippocampus, and is thought to modulate neurotransmitter and synapse functioning. Despite its precise role in the brain requiring further clarification, low zinc levels, within the hippocampus may alter neuron activity, thus affecting behaviour. There is evidence to suggest that zinc deficiency often results in elevated levels of copper in the blood due to the dynamic competition of these metals in the body. Elevated copper has been associated with hyperactivity and schizophrenia (Walsh, Issacson, Rehman & Hall, 1997). In a 1997 study, researchers from the Pfeiffer Health Research Institute proposed a relationship between the assaultive behaviour of young males and elevated blood copper/zinc ratios. The ratio of copper to zinc should stand at 0.7 to 1.0. In this study, assaultive males aged 3 to 20 years, were shown to have the following copper levels: aggravated assaults 1.52, physical assaults 1.33, destructive rages 1.44, and verbal assaults 1.18. Moreover, individuals exhibiting normal behaviour reported copper levels of 1.02.
Walsh, W.J., Isaacson, R.H., Rehman, F. & Hall, A. 1997. Elevated blood copper/zinc ratios in assaultive young males. Physiology and Behaviour, 62, 2, 327-329.