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Fish oil capsules prevent psychoses

Young men and women at risk of becoming psychotic can protect their mental health by taking a hefty daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. According to a trial done in a Viennese psychiatric clinic the preventive effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplements is about the same as that of anti-psychotic drugs.

Fish oil capsules prevent psychoses
The researchers gave 38 men and women aged between 13 and 25 daily fish oil capsules containing 1400 mg omega-3 fatty acids. Another 38 were given a placebo. Those who got the supplements took 4 capsules a day, giving the users a total of 700 mg EPA, 480 mg DHA and 220 mg other n-3 fatty acids. The intervention lasted 12 weeks, but the patients were followed during a whole year.

When a psychosis happens the brain short circuits, and brain cells make aberrant connections. As a result psychotics hear, see, smell and feelthings that are not there.

Some of the test subjects hallucinated but were not psychotic. Others had disturbances that indicated they were likely to have a psychotic attack. All test subjects had an ultra high risk of developing a psychosis, but none of them had already had a psychosis.

Of the subjects in the supplement-taking group, 2 developed a psychosis. In the placebo group the figure was 11.

Fish oil capsules prevent psychoses

The subjects in the supplements group also felt better. For example, they were better able to concentrate, felt calmer and had fewer headaches.

Fish oil capsules prevent psychoses

The researchers are not sure how omega-3 fatty acids protect against psychoses, although they have a few ideas. Psychoses cause considerable brain damage. Omega-3 fatty acids cause the brain cells to produce endogenous antioxidants which offer protection. Another possibility is that brain cells work better if they have more omega-3 fatty acids in their membranes, and are therefore less likely to go haywire.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;67(2):146-54.

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