According to researchers in the U.S., Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may have more of an influence on mood, personality and behavior, than previously thought.
A team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center say they have found that Omega 3 fatty acids influence impulsivity, personality and how people feel.
The researchers say they found in a study of 106 healthy volunteers, that participants who had lower blood levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were more likely to report mild or moderate symptoms of depression, a more negative outlook and be more impulsive; whilst those with higher blood levels of omega-3s were found to be more agreeable.
Sarah Conklin, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar with the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Program at the university, says a number of previous studies have linked low levels of omega-3 to clinically significant conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and attention deficit disorder.
But says Conklin, few studies have shown that these relationships also occur in healthy adults.
She believes the study will prompt future research into the effect of increasing omega-3 intake, whether by eating omega-3 rich foods like salmon, or taking fish-oil supplements, may have on people's moods.
The American Heart Association already recommends that all Americans consume fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, twice a week and the cardiovascular benefit of increasing omega-3 intake is well recognized.
This recommendation is based upon evidence that a diet high in fish is associated with improved heart health and reduced risk for heart-related problems, but to date little is known of the potential mental health effects among the general public.
The researchers were able to make comparisons by analyzing levels of omega-3 fatty acids in participants' blood and comparing that data to the participants' scores on three accepted tests for depression, impulsiveness and personality.
The amount of omega-3 circulating in the blood reflects dietary intake of the fatty acid. The study participants were not required to make changes in their normal diet habits.
Conkin presented the findings at the 46th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Denver.