For young people at high risk of developing schizophrenia, a 12-week intervention with omega-3 supplements might reduce the long-term risk of progression to the psychotic disorder.
According to a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from Australia carried out a study over seven years on the effect of omega-3 on the risk of psychotic disorder, reported Xinhua news agency.
Schizophrenia typically manifests in adolescence or early adulthood and the majority of those affected gradually develop a variety of clinically significant signs and symptoms.
In 2010, researchers reported that dietary supplements of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), in participants aged 13 to 25, prevented a first episode of a psychotic disorder for up to one year.
The new results showed this intervention had long-term effects even after a period of 6.7 years for 71 of the original 81 participants.
They found that 9.8 percent of the omega-3 group (4 out 41) developed psychosis compared to 40 percent (16 out of 40) in the placebo group.
In addition, the placebo group showed more rapid onset of psychosis and a higher overall incidence of other psychiatric disorders.
But due to the limited size of the sample group, further research was necessary to discover a mechanism by which PUFA supplementation might improve mental health, the researchers said.