Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil may help prevent mental illness from progressing. Researchers in Vienna, Austria identified ultra high-risk patients between the ages of 13 and 25. These individuals had symptoms of psychosis that predisposed them to develop schizophrenia.
The investigators assigned subjects to receive either 1.2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily or look-alike pills containing coconut oil for 12 weeks. At the end of a year, only 5 percent of the patients who received the fish oil were diagnosed with full blown schizophrenia. Nearly 30 percent of those on placebo had progressed to psychosis.
The researchers urge caution in interpreting their results because the study was relatively small. Nevertheless they conclude that their study strong suggests that a natural substance, fish oil, offers a viable prevention and treatment strategy with minimal associated risk in young people at ultra-high risk of psychosis.
[Archives of General Psychiatry, Feb., 2010]