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Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease psychotic disorder risk

February 2, 2010

Supplements of omega-3 fatty acids -rich fish oil may reduce the likelihood of developing psychotic disorders in high-risk people, says a new clinical trial.

In the study, 76 people at high risk of progression to psychosis were randomly assigned to receive daily placebo (coconut oil) or supplements of fish oil containing 1.2 grams of omega-3 and providing 700 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 480 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (1). After 12 weeks only 4.9 percent of the omega-3 group had progressed to psychotic disorder, compared with 27.5 percent of the placebo group.

Commenting on the potential mechanism the researchers noted that omega-3 fatty acids may produce changes in cell membranes and interactions with neurotransmitter systems in the brain.

The link between omega-3 and cognitive function and behavior is not new, with various studies reporting conflicting results for the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Some of the more promising data has been reported for DHA, with memory function improvements found for healthy older adults with a decline in cognitive function that occurs naturally with age, and known to precede diseases such as Alzheimer's.

References

  1. Amminger G. P. et al. Long-Chain omega-3 Fatty Acids for Indicated Prevention of Psychotic Disorders: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2010; 67(2):146–154.