Fatty acids in fish oil could help prevent the onset of psychosis in those most at risk, based on about seven years of research on omega-3. The journal Nature Communications published the conclusions of the latest study on fish oil's efficacy in keeping psychosis at bay.

The University of Melbourne's G. Paul Amminger, study author and senior research fellow, and his team previously looked into the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on neural development and published a study in 2010.

"As key components of brain tissue, omega-3 PUFAs (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) play critical roles in brain development and function, and a lack of these fatty acids has been implicated in a number of mental health conditions over the lifespan, including schizophrenia," stated the study.

Amminger and his team studied the effects of a daily regimen of fish oil capsules on a group of 81 people who were 13 years old to 25 years old, all of whom were deemed to have a high risk of developing psychosis later in life. The team gave fish oil pills to 41 of the study's participants and gave placebo to the other 40.

About seven years later, Amminger and company report what they have learned from 71 of those 81 original participants.

"We have now completed a longer-term follow-up of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, at a median of 6.7 years," the study stated. "Here we show that brief intervention with omega-3 PUFAs reduced both the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and psychiatric morbidity in general in this study."

Most of the people in the group that received the fish oil pills show no more mild symptoms of psychosis, according to the study. If the findings continue to hold up against scientific scrutiny, fish oil pills could help people hold off a variety of mental illnesses.

"Schizophrenia is a major cause of disability, but early treatment has been linked to better outcomes," said Amminger. "Our study gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic medication."

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