Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fish Oil Affects Your Mental State

Here's a "new" fact that apparently everyone who works in the field of nutrition has known for decades: What you eat not only affects you physically, it also affects you mentally.

"Fish oil pills may be able to save some young people with signs of mental illness from descending into schizophrenia, according to a preliminary but first-of-its-kind study. [Not really -- fish oil's effects on mood and mental state have been addressed before. In particular, fish oil has been found to help with depression and bi-polar]. The Austrian study [of course, not a US study] of 81 patients comes from leaders in the field of youth mental health and adds to evidence suggesting the right intervention might prevent severe mental illness. Though it sounds incredibly simple, fish oil fits one hypothesis for what causes schizophrenia, a possible difference in how the body handles fatty acids." The study's findings appear in February's Archives of General Psychiatry.

For years, we were told that our son's "problems" had absolutely nothing to do with what he was eating. There simply was no connection with the food we ate and our mental health.

Of course, physically, what you ate had a tremendous impact -- your strength, your weight, your physical well-being -- there was never a question about the effect food had on your body from the neck down. But, that all stopped at the top of your neck. Robert's doctors told us, with no reservation whatsoever, that diet and supplements had, and would have, no impact or connection to Robert's mind.

Oh well, guess what? We found out they were all so very wrong so many years ago. Now, the scientific world is catching up to the nutritionists and natural practitioners. (There also was a recent study that addressed the effects of a Mediterranean diet on mood -- I think I discussed that in one of my earlier blogs . . . )

Why is it taking so long? Where's the money in prescribing fish oil? Who is going to spend the money it takes to perform an acceptable study, lobby for its publication, and spread the word?

Never forget, drugs make money. And, just in case you're wondering, here's what the article had to say about drug treatments for schizophrenia:

"About 2.4 million Americans have schizophrenia, a disorder treated with antipsychotic medication. Studies have tried antipsychotics in selected young people, but with troubling side effects. Results have been mixed.

For the new study, researchers identified 81 people, ages 13 to 25, with warning signs of psychosis. The people in the study had sought professional help and most were referred by psychiatrists at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

Researchers randomly assigned 41 of the patients to take four fish oil pills a day for three months. The daily dose of 1,200 milligrams was about what many people take to get the protective benefits of fish oil for the heart and costs less than 40 cents a day. The rest of the patients received dummy pills.

After one year of monitoring, 2 of 41 patients in the fish oil group, about 5 percent, had become psychotic, completely out of touch with reality. In the placebo group, 11 of 40, about 28 percent, became psychotic."

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