Researchers at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may influence mood, personality and behavior.
In a study of 106 healthy volunteers, researchers found that participants who had lower blood levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were more likely to report mild or moderate symptoms of depression, a more negative outlook and be more impulsive. Conversely, those with higher blood levels of omega-3s were found to be more agreeable.
" A number of previous studies have linked low levels of omega-3 to clinically significant conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and attention deficit disorder," said Sarah Conklin, at the University of Pittsburgh. " However, few studies have shown that these relationships also occur in healthy adults. This study opens the door for future research looking at what effect increasing omega-3 intake, whether by eating omega-3 rich foods like salmon, or taking fish-oil supplements, has on people's mood."
The American Heart Association ( AHA ) recommends that all Americans consume fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, twice per week. This recommendation is based upon evidence that a diet high in fish s associated with improved heart health and reduced risk for heart-related problems. While the cardiovascular benefit of increasing omega-3 intake is well recognized, relatively little is known of the potential mental health effects among the general public.
Comparisons were made by analysing levels of omega-3 fatty acids in participants' blood and comparing that data to the participants' scores on three accepted tests for depression, impulsiveness and personality. The amount of omega-3 circulating in blood reflects dietary intake of the fatty acid.
Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 2006