What’s in the IQ-Boosting Pills?
There is no unusual magic in the particular vitamin-mineral formulas shown to boost childhood performance on IQ tests. The supplements generally contain moderate amounts of a wide range of basic vitamins and minerals typical of many multi-vitamin combinations. For example Dr. Benton’s original formula that dramatically boosted nonverbal IQ scores included 100 micrograms of folic acid, 12 milligrams of B6, 50 milligrams of niacin, 50 milligrams of pantothenic acid, 4 milligrams of thiamin, 5 milligrams of riboflavin, 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 70 IU of vitamin E, 200 micrograms of chromium, 7 milligrams of magnesium, 1.3 milligrams of iron, 10 milligrams of zinc, 70 milligrams of choline, plus 50 milligrams of bioflavonoids. Such doses are considered sufficient to correct most deficiencies.
Best Advice: Any good-quality daily supplement with 100 percent of the recommended daily doses of a variety of vitamins and minerals is likely to provide the desired “insurance” to help guarantee that your child’s brain is sufficiently nourished to function optimally.
Note: Even if your child scores better on IQ tests after taking vitamin supplements, don’t expect major changes in scholastic performance. What has improved is the child’s intellectual “potential,” says Dr. Benton. Improved intellectual “performance” requires more, including individual effort and intellectual stimulation, and is likely to come gradually. “Any benefits are likely to be subtle and longterm rather than dramatic,” says Dr. Benton.
BOTTOM LINE: Taking vitamin supplements does not push a kid’s brain beyond normal capacity. A lack of the vitamins causes a youngster to perform below capacity. Or in Dr. Benton’s words: “It’s not that vitamins increase intelligence. It’s that a poor diet lowers performance on intelligence tests.”
“I OWE IT ALL TO VITAMINS” —DAME BARBARA
British romance author Dame Barbara Cartland, in a 1992 letter to the Guardian newspaper, credited vitamins for her long and prodigious writing career. “I am 91,” she wrote, “and I have just broken the record [Guinness Book of Records] by writing more books than any other English author-570. . . . I have also achieved the world record by writing for 17 years an average of 23 books. I would not have done this without vitamins. All my children and grandchildren have taken them. My eldest grandson passed the difficult examinations for chartered accountancy with honours. My second grandson won the debating cup at the Bar and my third passed so highly into Oxford that they offered him any college of his choice. They all say they owed this to the vitamins I gave them.”