Essential fatty acids

What are essential fatty acids?

Essential fatty acids have been proposed as a potential alternative treatment. The two main EFAs are omega-3 and omega-6. They are important compounds for brain function, as they have impact on membrane receptors, ion channels and synapse function, as well as neuronal development. However, they are not made in the body and must be sourced from the diet. People with schizophrenia have shown to have lower levels of these essential compounds and their products, including omega-3 products docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), its esther, ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid (E-EPA), omega-6 product arachidonic acid (AA), and their metabolites including prostaglandins.

What is the evidence for fatty acids?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests some benefit of omega-3 fatty acids over placebo for preventing transition to psychosis for up to one year post-treatment for those at ultra-high risk of psychosis.

Low quality evidence is unclear of any benefit of omega-3 as an alternative to neuroleptic medication for people with untreated schizophrenia. Results suggest some improvement in mental state, and better study retention may occur.

March 2019

Last updated at: 2:10 am, 19th March 2019
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