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Omega-3 key to better mental health, say scientists

The i logo The i 6 days ago
a store filled with lots of food © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Omega-3 may hold the key to better mental health, say scientists.

It has long been accepted a nutritionally balanced diet helps maintain physical health, now it seems it plays an important part in mental health too with Omega-3 a key ingredient.

In the world's largest review of studies into mental health and nutrient supplements strong evidence was found Omega-3 fatty acids, naturally occurring in oily fish such as salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts, reduced symptoms of depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

a group of stuffed animals © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd Dr Joseph Firth, lead author of the review, said: "While there has been a longstanding interest in the use of nutrient supplements in the treatment of mental illness, the topic is often quite polarising, and surrounded by either over-hyped claims or undue cynicism.

Mental health benefits

"In this most recent research, we have brought together the data from dozens and dozens of clinical trials conducted all over the world, in over 10,000 individuals treated for mental illness.

Foods rich in omega 3 © autumnhoverter Foods rich in omega 3 "This mass of data has allowed us to investigate the benefits and safety of various different nutrients for mental health conditions - on a larger scale than what has ever been possible before.”

A team of researchers, led by the University of Manchester and Western Sydney University, looked at the 'best of the best' evidence available on specific nutrient supplements across a range of mental disorders including depression, stress and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia and ADHD.

Food rich in omega 3 fatty acid and healthy fats © Getty Food rich in omega 3 fatty acid and healthy fats All supplements were in addition to conventional treatments.

'Best of the best' evidence

Their findings, published online in World Psychiatry, revealed a strong link between the use of omega-3 supplements as an additional treatment and a reduction in the symptoms of depression.

Foods high in omega three © Getty Foods high in omega three

There was also some evidence it had benefits for those with ADHD.

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Certain folate supplements may be effective for major depression and schizophrenia and amino acid N-acetylcysteine could help with mood disorders and schizophrenia.

"Future research should aim to determine which individuals might benefit most from evidence-based supplements and to better understand the underlying mechanisms so we can adopt a targeted approach to supplement use in mental health treatment", said co-author Professor Jerome Sarris.

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