Fish oil keeps mental illness away, a new study has found. (Photo: Stock File /FIS)
Fish oil delays onset of mental disorder
Wednesday, February 03, 2010, 15:20 (GMT + 9)
A new study conducted in Austria suggests that the daily intake of fish oil can help to diminish the risk of various types of mental illness.
Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria and the Youth Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia studied the effects of ingesting fish oil in the prevention of psychotic disorders in high-risk patients.
According to the study published in the magazine Archives of General Psychiatry, individuals with an elevated probability of developing psychosis seem to be less prone to psychotic disorders after a regimen of 12 weeks of fish oil capsules that contained long-chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The research findings indicate that these polyunsaturated fatty acids are beneficial for individuals with schizophrenia, that have an underlying dysfunction in the metabolism of fatty acids.
The scientists, led by Paul Amminger, conducted a clinical study of the effects of these fatty acids on the risk of progression of psychosis in 81 at-risk individuals.
Those patients, between the ages of 13 and 25, had mild, fleeting psychotic symptoms, or a background of family psychosis together with a diminution in their functioning.
Over 12 weeks, 41 individuals were given daily capsules of fish oil that contained 1. 2 grams of omega-3 and the other 40 were administered a placebo.
At the end of the study, 4.9 per cent of the group that consumed omega 3 and 27.5 per cent of the placebo group had developed psychotic disorders.
The gap between the progression of psychosis was 22.6 per cent, ABC reports.
We would need to treat four adults with those fish supplements to prevent one of them from developing mental disorders in a period of a year,” the researchers concluded.
Over the course of the study, the team discovered that the polyunsaturated fatty acids also significantly reduced the symptoms and improved the functioning of the patients compared with those on the placebo.
"The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent, or at least delay, the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic drugs during the appearance of pre-psychotic symptoms," the authors said.
Currently, fish oil preparations are effective in the treatment of distinct psychiatric pathologies and behaviour problems.
"In the future, more research needs to be conducted to establish if polyunsaturated fatty acids are a means of prevention and a strategic treatment with minimum risk in young people with an elevated risk of suffering psychosis," the scientists added.
By Analia Murias