DHA/EPA Omega-3 Supplementation Reduce the Risk of Psychotic Disorder

July 12, 2010


Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Indicated Prevention of Psychotic Disorders
Amminger , G. P. et al., Arch. Gen. Psychiatry , 67: 146-154 , 2010
Dept. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria


The primary goal of the present clinical trial was to determine if long-chain omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (as DHA plus EPA) may reduce the rate of progression to first-episode psychotic disorder in adolescents and young adults with sub-threshold psychosis. The subjects were eligible for participation if aged 13-25 years and met appropriate test criteria of risk factors for becoming psychotic within a fixed time period. The trial was a randomized , double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment trial wherein the 81 eligible subjects received a placebo (control group) or daily omega-3 supplementation providing 700 mg EPA plus 480 mg DHA (total sum of 1180 mg ) for 12 weeks . The primary efficacy end-point was conversion to psychotic disorder as defined by appropriate clinical criteria.

The risk of transition to psychotic disorder was significantly lower in the omega-3 group such that the cumulative conversion to psychotic disorder was only 4.9 % in the omega-3 group as compared to 27.5 % in the placebo group. The authors concluded that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids ‘reduce the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and may offer a safe and efficacious strategy for indicated prevention in young people with subthreshold psychotic states’.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

This is a highly original finding in the field of potential clinical applications for DHA/EPA omega-3 supplementation in the complementary care of those with mental disorders. While future confirmation in additional trials using differing doses and durations of supplementation are needed, it should be pointed out that the EPA/DHA intakes employed are similar to current dietary intakes in a significant portion of the Japanese population where more fish/seafood is consumed than meats. Dietary intakes of 900-1200 mg/day as EPA/DHA is common in a significant portion of that population. Most North Americans who attain such daily intakes do so via supplementation.

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