April 04, 2007

Essential Fats Found Deficient in Brains of Men with Schizophrenia

A small postmortem study of brain tissue suggests that males with schizophrenia may have an abnormality in the amounts of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in a portion of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Essential fatty acids are beneficial, necessary fats we obtain from only some foods, and which our own body cannot manufacture on its own. These fats are essential to our health and survival.

The types of EFAs found in this study to be most deficient in the OFC were the omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. The largest deficiencies were seen in patients who had not yet been treated with antipsychotic medications, and in those that had died of cardiovascular diseases. Treatment with antipsychotic medications partially corrected ("normalized") the fatty acid abnormalities, with more normal values seen in those brains treated with the atypical antipsychotics than in those treated with typical antipsychotics.

The authors of the study write that:

"The findings suggest that such deficiencies are gender-specific (in males, but not seen in the females studied) and partially normalized by antipsychotic medications. Fatty acid abnormalities could not be wholly attributed to lifestyle or postmortem tissue variables."

"These findings add to a growing body of evidence implicating omega-3 fatty acid deficiency as well as the OFC in the pathoaetiology of SZ, and suggest that abnormalities in OFC fatty acid composition may be gender-specific and partially normalized by antipsychotic medications."

Unfortunately, research into supplementation of Omega fatty acids has shown very mixed results in terms of helping people with schizophrenia. Some studies have shown some benefit in reductions of negative symptoms (by 20% or so), but other rigorous studies have shown no such benefits. A research review article from Cochrane Review suggested that "The use of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for schizophrenia remains experimental and large well designed, conducted and reported studies are indicated and needed."

Currently, omega-3 fatty acids, usually from fish oil, is recommended or prescribed by doctors for the treatment of some forms of cardiovascular disease.

Some common dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are: cold water oily fish (such as wild salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines), flaxseed, kiwi, walnuts, and some eggs and poultry.

Some common dietary sources of omega-6 fatty acids are whole-grain cereals and breads, eggs and poultry.

Thanks goes to Tim for bringing this article to our attention.

Read the full article: Omega-3 levels in orbitofrontal cortex linked to schizophrenia
Original Source Abstract: Abnormalities in the fatty acid composition of the postmortem orbitofrontal cortex of schizophrenic patients: Gender differences and partial normalization with antipsychotic medications (Schizophr Res 2007; 91: 37–50)

Related Reading:

EPA Omega-3 Fish Oils and Schizophrenia

Fatty acids can help with schizophrenia

Why Some Schizophrenics Are Hard to Treat

Elevated Prenatal Homocysteine May Raise Schizophrenia Risk

Diet May Affect Outcome of Schizophrenia

Beneficial Fats May be Added to Plants


very interesting read

Posted by: Jim at April 9, 2007 04:27 PM

A new pediatric use for ADHD/ADD & Bipolar study of a specific formulation - OmegaBrite - has been released. There have been other clinical studies of it.

The new study has just been done saying that even without other psychotropic medication, it has a modest positive effect on pediatric patients with ADD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder with no side-effects. Because of this, some doctors are saying that this should be tried first, before the pharmaceuticals.

The real-life situation, is that most of our younger children use it along with other pharmaceutical medication. With the more severe illnesses, many use a lot of other food supplements as well along with the psychotropic meds.

At any rate, I thought that some people may be interested in this article. But with a caveat - the title and wording, in my opinion is a bit hyped-up - it was not shown to be "effective" as a stand-alone treatment. It said that it helped some kids standalone. That still is worthwhile to try on little kids, especially since it is good for them, and the alternative meds carry some severe risk factors:

Harvard Researchers Show Specially Formulated High EPA Omega-3 Supplement Effective as a Stand-Alone Treatment for Children with Bipolar Disorder, ADD

and here is the link to an abstract of the original research:
Omega-3 fatty acid monotherapy for pediatric bipolar disorder: A prospective open-label trial

Posted by: Naomi at April 10, 2007 06:25 AM

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