Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Antioxidants Useful for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects more than 1% of the world's
population and accounts for 25% of all hospital admissions in the United
States. It can affect multiple aspects of one's life, and is typically
characterized by loss of contact with reality (psychosis), hallucinations,
false beliefs (delusions), emotional changes, and decreased motivation.
Many people with schizophrenia also experience memory difficulties and
speech disturbances, and may have difficulty functioning socially or in the
work place. The cause of schizophrenia is unknown, although some physicians
believe that dietary and nutritional factors contribute to the development
In the new study, 28 chronically medicated schizophrenic adults and 45
healthy adults received a combination of omega-3 fatty acids (360 mg per
day of EPA and 240 mg per day of DHA) plus two antioxidants (800 IU of
vitamin E per day and 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day) for four months. Those
with schizophrenia continued to take their prescription medications,
including haloperidol (Haldolr), risperidone (Risperdalr), olanzapine
(Zyprexar), and clozapine (Clozarilr). Several psychological tests were
performed monthly to evaluate whether symptoms had improved or worsened.
Twenty-one of the 28 people with schizophrenia were additionally evaluated
four months after discontinuing treatment to determine if the effects of
treatment were sustained. Blood measurements of fatty acids were taken
initially, at the conclusion of the study, and four months after stopping
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Schizophrenics taking the fatty acids and antioxidants had significant
improvements on most of the psychological tests and also showed improvement
in quality of life after four months of treatment. These benefits were
sustained for an additional four months after the supplements were
discontinued. Those with schizophrenia were found to have lower levels of
EPA and DHA prior to treatment compared with the healthy people, but these
levels increased while taking the supplements.
Studies using omega-3 fatty acids or antioxidants alone have showed
inconsistent results. Some studies suggest that oxidative damage to nerve
cells decreases fatty acid levels in the brain. Supplementing with fatty
acids helps replenish the diminished stores in cells, while vitamins E and
C help protect the cell wall from oxidative damage. Some of the newer
anti-psychotic medications have been shown to have antioxidant properties,
which might explain some of their benefit.
Other nutrients that have been shown to be beneficial in treating
schizophrenia include niacin or niacinamide (vitamin B3), folic acid,
glycine, pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and melatonin. Consult a healthcare
provider knowledgeable in nutritional medicine for more specific dose
Healthnotes Newswire (October 16, 2003)-Supplementation with omega-3 fatty
acids and specific antioxidants may relieve symptoms associated with
schizophrenia and improve quality of life, according to a new study in
Schizophrenia Research (2003;62:195-204). This is exciting news for the
millions of people worldwide who suffer from this debilitating condition.
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