In recent months an important issue in the field of nutrition has focused on the benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids, the truth is that they are considered an essential nutrient in the proper functioning of the body. They are associated with all kinds of health benefits, from their qualities to reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, they are a great ally to combat inflammation, improve liver function and also benefit brain function The best? Recently, numerous references have come to light that endorse its properties to benefit mental health and combat conditions such as depression, anxiety and irritability.
Specifically, new research has found that adolescents with higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid in the blood, were less likely to develop a psychotic disorder in early adulthood, suggesting that it may have a potential preventive effect by reducing the risk of psychosis. The study, led by researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, was published in Translational Psychiatry and was titled Children of the 90s in Bristol. It was based on studying more than 3,800 people who were screened for psychotic disorder, depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder generalized at 17 and 24 years.
During these evaluations, blood samples were collected and the researchers measured levels of omega-6 fatty acids and that are generally characterized by increasing inflammation in the body, and the levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which generally reduce inflammation. While there was little evidence that fatty acids were associated with mental disorders at age 17, the researchers found that 24-year-olds with psychotic disorder, depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder had higher levels of omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids, especially compared to those without these disorders. Which makes it clear that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is a complement in the prevention of mental health disorders that can arise in early adulthood and is characterized by being a stage with a high index in this type of conditions .
The researchers also found that 24-year-olds with psychotic disorder had lower levels of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid typically found in different variants of oily fish and in dietary supplements, than 24-year-olds without psychotic disorder. It is worth mentioning that a group of 2,700 people were followed over time and those adolescents with higher levels of DHA at 17 years old had a 56% less likely to develop a psychotic disorder seven years later at age 24. The reality is that this is a very relevant finding, as it suggests that DHA in adolescence may have a potential preventive effect of reducing the risk of psychosis in early adulthood. It is worth mentioning that these results remained consistent, regardless of factors such as sex, body mass index, smoking, and socioeconomic status.
Therefore as well as early consumption of omega-3-rich foods and supplements is key in preventing mental health illnesses, the results could also be raising about the relationship between the development of mental health disorders and a high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, which are normally found in vegetable oils and derivatives.
It is worth mentioning that the study was carried out with the collaboration of David Mongan, RCSI doctoral student and Irish Clinical Academic Training Fellow (ICAT), who undertook the task of analyzing the data with supervision from Professor David Cotter and Professor Mary Cannon from RCSI’s Department of Psychiatry. In addition, the ICAT program is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Health Research Board, Health Service Executive National Doctors Training and Planning, Health and Social Care, Research and Development Division, of Northern Ireland.
Among the most relevant findings, the experts emphasized that despite the need for more research work to understand the mechanisms behind omega-3 consumption, one of the theories is associated with its qualities to reduce inflammation and the decline in inappropriate brain connections during adolescence.
Undoubtedly one more reason to increase the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet of children and young people, it is not only a habit that will enhance their health and mental performance, it is key in the prevention of mental health diseases. Therefore specialists advise increase consumption of the best sources of omega-3: fish and other shellfish (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines); nuts and seeds (such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds, and black walnuts) and some plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil).
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