“Fat” is a bad word in our society, but omega-3 fatty acids are one of the superstars when it comes to improving nerve conduction. High levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain also reduce neuroinflammation, a factor commonly seen in people with depression. Cell membranes consist partly of omega-3s, which make it easier for the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine to pass through cell membranes. This is an essential fatty acid, which means it is not produced by the body and must be obtained via foodstuffs or through supplementation. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include: salmon, tuna, cod, mackerel, sardines, walnuts and flaxseed. One to two grams daily of fish oil as a supplement to a balanced diet is advisable, especially for those susceptible to depression.
A new study suggests that fish oil may also be a possible deterrent to schizophrenia. One theory supporting this hypothesis is that those with schizophrenia don’t process fatty acids properly, leading to damaged brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil could possibly help brain cells to repair and subsequently stabilize.
Researchers are starting a large international study in eight cities with the goal of replicating their findings. These findings appear in this month’s Archives of General Psychiatry.