Omega 3 research is becoming more important to mental health. Add it to the expert review checklist of unforeseen intervening causes in suicide.
"August 26, 2011 — Low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the major omega-3 fatty acid concentrated in the brain, may increase suicide risk, new research suggests.
A retrospective case-control study of1600 United States military personnel, including 800 who had committed suicide and 800 healthy counterparts, showed that all participants had low omega-3 levels. However, the suicide risk was 62% greatest in those with the lowest levels of DHA.
Our findings add to an extensive body of research that points to a fundamental role for DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against mental health problems and suicide risk.
"Our findings add to an extensive body of research that points to a fundamental role for DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against mental health problems and suicide risks," co–principal investigator Capt. Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, acting chief, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, said in a statement.
Dr. Joseph R. Hibbeln
He told Medscape Medical News that the US military "goes to great steps" to ensure they provide the best nutrition to their soldiers, especially in combat and deployment situations. However, these findings on the potential usefulness of omega-3 fatty acids for the brain should be taken into account when designing military diets in the future.
"Omega-3 is already recommended by the American Psychiatric Association as adjunctive therapy for anybody with a psychiatric disorder, especially for those with major depression," said Dr. Hibbeln.
When asked whether he would recommend omega-3 even to those without a diagnosis, Dr. Hibbeln replied, "it certainly wouldn't hurt."
"It's best not to categorize this as 'a drug,' but instead as a fundamental nutrient."