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Over Consumption of Omega-6s relative to Omega-3s May Increase Risk of Mental Disorders

Previous research has suggested that the optimal ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is around 1:1. Western diets tend to be rich in omega-6s, and for many this ratio closer to 10:1. A new study has found that teenagers with a higher ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids may be more likely to develop mental disorders by the age of 24.

Participants in the study included 3,800 teenagers who took part in Bristol’s Children of the 90’s health study. They were assessed for psychotic disorder, depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder at the ages of 17 and 24. Omega-3 and omega-6 levels were also measured at the ages of 17 and 24.

Participants who developed psychotic disorder, depressive disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder at the age of 24 had higher levels of omega-6 than omega-3. Participants who had higher levels of DHA omega-3’s at the age of 17 were 56% less likely to have developed psychotic disorder at the age of 24.

The researchers believe that since increased omega-3 consumption can help modulate inflammation, the shortfall in omega-3 consumption relative to omega-6s may be the reason for the mental disorder linkage.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. It was published online ahead of print on May 31, 2021, in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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