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Nutr Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;26(4):409-25. doi: 10.1177/0884533611411306.

Essential fatty acids and psychiatric disorders.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Šalata 3, HR-10 000 Zagreb, Croatia.


Psychiatric disorders are a significant source of disability worldwide. Increasing evidence indicates that disturbances of fatty acids and phospholipid metabolism can play a part in a wide range of psychiatric, neurological, and developmental disorders in adults. Essential fatty acids, ω-3 and ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, play a central role in the normal development and functioning of the brain and central nervous system. The aim of this article is to discuss the overall insight into roles of essential fatty acids in the development of mental disorders (depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) and, in light of the fact that disturbances of fatty acid metabolism can play a part in the above-mentioned disorders, to investigate the current knowledge of lipid abnormalities in posttraumatic stress disorder. The information in this review was obtained after extensive MEDLINE searching of each topic area through relevant published studies from the past 20 years. References from the obtained studies were also used. This review summarizes the knowledge in terms of essential fatty acids intake and metabolism, as well as evidence pointing to potential mechanisms of essential fatty acids in normal brain functioning and development of neuropsychiatric disorders. The literature shows that ω-3 fatty acids provide numerous health benefits and that changes in their concentration in organisms are connected to a variety of psychiatric symptoms and disorders, including stress, anxiety, cognitive impairment, mood disorders, and schizophrenia. Further studies are necessary to confirm ω-3 fatty acids' supplementation as a potential rational treatment in psychiatric disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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