Low omega-3 levels are associated with a higher risk of psychosis



New research has found that adolescents with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood are less likely to develop psychotic disorders in early adulthood, suggesting that this could have a potential preventative effect to reduce the risk of psychosis.

The study, led by researchers from the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, was published in Translational Psychiatry.

Over 3,800 people in the Bristol Children of the 1990s Health Study, aged 17 and 24, were screened for psychotic disorders, depressive disorders, and generalized anxiety disorders.

These tests took blood samples and measured the levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which generally increase inflammation in the body, and omega-3 fatty acids, which generally reduce inflammation.

While there was little evidence that fatty acids were associated with mental disorders by the age of 17, researchers found that 24-year-olds with psychotic disorders, depressive disorders, and generalized anxiety disorders had higher levels of omega-6 than those compared to these Omega-3 fatty acids exhibited without these disorders.

The researchers also found that 24-year-olds with psychotic disorder had lower levels of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid typically found in oily fish or supplements, than 24-year-olds without psychotic disorder. In a group of over 2,700 people followed over time, adolescents with higher DHA levels by age 17 were 56% less likely to develop a psychotic disorder seven years later by age 24. This suggests that DHA in adolescence may have a potential preventive effect in reducing the risk of psychosis in early adulthood.

These results remained consistent when other factors such as gender, body mass index, tobacco smoking, and socioeconomic status were taken into account.

“The study needs to be repeated, but if the results are consistent, these results would suggest that increased dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids in adolescents, for example from oily fish like mackerel, might discourage some people from their early age develop psychosis. “twenty,” said Professor David Cotter, lead author on the study and professor of molecular psychiatry at RCSI.

“The results could also raise questions about the relationship between the development of mental disorders and omega-6 fatty acids, which are typically found in vegetable oils.”

David Mongan, RCSI PhD student and ICAT (Irish Clinical Academic Training) fellow, analyzed the data under the supervision of Professor David Cotter and Professor Mary Cannon of the RCSI Department of Psychiatry. The ICAT program is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Health Research Board, the National Doctors Training and Planning of the Health Service Executive, and the Department of Health and Social Services, Research and Development in Northern Ireland.

“We need to do more research to understand the mechanisms behind this effect, but it could possibly be related to reducing inflammation or reducing inappropriately clipping of brain connections during puberty,” said Dr. David Mongan, the study’s lead author, who is a psychiatry trainee and PhD student at RCSI.


This research was supported in part by a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research grant and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. The UK Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol provided key support for Children of the 1990s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The data collection used in this study was jointly funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

About the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

The RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is a leading global university for good health and wellbeing. It ranks second in the world for its contribution to UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, and focuses solely on education and research to advance the improvement of human health around the world.

RCSI is an international not-for-profit university headquartered in Dublin. It is among the top 250 universities in the world in the World University Rankings (2021) and its research ranks first in citations in Ireland. RCSI has been awarded the Athena Swan Bronze Accreditation for Positive Gender Practice in Higher Education.

Visit the RCSI MyHealth Expert Directory to learn the details of our experts on a range of health problems and concerns. These clinicians and researchers are aware of their responsibility to share their knowledge and discoveries in order to provide people with information that will guide them to better health and are ready to engage with the media in their area of ​​expertise.

About 90s kids

The University of Bristol-based Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is a long-term health research project that has involved more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992 since tracking the health and development of the Parents and their children in detail and is currently recruiting the children and siblings of the original children for the study. It receives core funding from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol.

More information is available at http://www.childrenofthe90s.ac.uk

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