Mental Health and Cognition

Low Plasma Omega-3s Linked to Callous Traits and Faulty Emotion Processing in ADHD Boys

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) entails a complex set of disturbances and behaviors that impairs a person’s ability to function and increases the chances that the symptoms will persist to adulthood and predispose to poor occupational functioning. ADHD has been described by the American Psychiatric Association in its newly revised diagnostic manual DSM-V as a pattern of [developmentally inappropriate] behavior that includes at least 6 symptoms from either or both of the inattentive or hyperactivity and impulsivity clusters of behaviors. These symptoms often occur along with learning difficulties, conduct disorder,…

Read More

Math Scores in 28 Countries Associated with Breast Milk DHA

Several observational studies have reported that infants and children of mothers who had higher intakes of fish or n-3 LC-PUFAs in pregnancy score higher on cognitive and behavioral tests than children of mothers with low intakes. In the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, the children of mothers with higher fish consumption were significantly less likely to have low verbal IQ scores and were more likely to have higher scores for social development, prosocial behavior, communication and fine motor skills. Greater maternal fish consumption was also associated with higher…

Read More

DHA Supplementation in Healthy Young Adults Linked to Improved Memory Scores

Higher concentrations of DHA in brain have been associated with improved memory performance in individuals with mild cognitive impairment, age-related cognitive decline, preterm infants fed LC-PUFA-supplemented formula, school-aged children with higher umbilical cord DHA concentrations and better cognitive performance in non-demented elderly with memory complaints.  Supplementation with EPA + DHA was also associated with significantly improved working memory in a small sample of healthy young adults. In contrast to these reports, others have reported more rapid short-term memory loss with DHA supplementation in young females and no effect in healthy older…

Read More

High-Dose DHA-Rich Fish Oil May Improve Memory in Early Cognitive Impairment

Many characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease are agreed, but the origins, cause, physiological processes and progression of this debilitating condition are not. For example, it has been suggested that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a transitional phase between normal cognitive changes in aging and the development of dementia. Some estimate that more than half the individuals with MCI advance to Alzheimer’s disease within 5 years. Others assert that most people with MCI will not progress to dementia even after 10 years. Tracking the processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease has become more…

Read More

Pretreatment with High-Dose n-3 LC-PUFAs Mitigates Damage and Improves Recovery from Spinal Cord Injury

The importance of DHA in the recovery from spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries has been demonstrated in DHA-treated animals that exhibit dramatic improvements in motor function, greatly reduced neuronal loss, improved learning, less oxidative stress, and more rapid recovery. This work suggests that supplementation with DHA immediately after injury would improve cellular and functional recovery in humans as well. A recent case report describing the use of high-dose EPA and DHA (19.2 g n-3 LC-PUFAs/day) for more than a year in a patient with severe traumatic brain injury has…

Read More

Higher Reading Scores in DHA-Supplemented Children with Low Baseline Scores

Brain function depends on having all its systems working well together. Damage to the brain from injury or disease, impaired production of transmitter molecules or insufficient amounts of substances needed for brain responses are some ways brain function can go awry. DHA, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid is important for the structure of brain cells and for brain function. When it is not available in sufficient amounts in early life, brain development and learning may be slowed or harmed. There is evidence of this in suboptimal visual function, childhood learning…

Read More

Maternal PUFAs, Not Methylmercury, Associated with Child’s Language Scores

The importance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in brain development and learning is well known. Less clear are the effects of these fatty acids on specific outcomes, such as language development. Some studies have reported no differences in vocabulary or language development with higher intake of long-chain PUFAs or DHA, a long-chain omega-3 PUFA. Others have observed transient effects of DHA supplementation in early infancy on later language development and some have reported improved language scores with higher levels of DHA in blood. Yet others have reported language deficits…

Read More

Fish Consumption in Pregnancy Linked to Fewer Symptoms of ADHD Behavior in Child

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a common childhood behavioral disorder, may be increasing. Worldwide, ADHD affects about 8% to 12% of school-age children, with some estimates closer to 5%. In the U.S., the prevalence increased from 7.5% to 9.0% from 2001 to 2007. As the criteria for determining ADHD have changed, more cases may be identified. Even with uncertain numbers, the condition puts a burden on families, teachers and health care providers, as treatments are limited. We do not know the causes of ADHD, but genetic and environmental factors, such as…

Read More

Nutrition, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression

By Marlene P. Freeman, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass. The effects of nutrition and dietary composition have been studied in the area of mental health.  Epidemiological studies have focused either on cross-sectional analyses or longitudinal analysis on intake of particular nutrients or patterns of intake. Treatment studies have used dietary supplementation for psychiatric disorders, particularly major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression and anxiety disorders are more prevalent in women than men.1 MDD consists of episodes that are of at least two weeks’ duration and is characterized…

Read More

Added DHA Linked to Higher Reading Scores in Children with the Lowest Scores

The intake of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) in most developed countries with low consumption of fish and seafood is well below the amounts recommended for adults and women of childbearing age. For example, in the U.S., adult intakes of n-3 LC-PUFAs are approximately 100 mg/day, with women of childbearing age consuming approximately 50 mg of DHA per day. International recommended intakes for pregnant and lactating women are at least 200 mg of DHA per day. In addition to the low consumption of n-3 LC-PUFAs, very high intakes of linoleic…

Read More