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Entries from September 2011

Omega 3 Supplementation Needed For Addiction and Brain Disorders

September 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

Research published online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (August 2011), found that low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the major omega-3 fatty acid concentrated in the brain, may increase suicide risk. A retrospective case-control study of 1600 United States military personnel, including 800 who had committed suicide and 800 healthy counterparts, showed that all participants had low omega-3 levels. However, the suicide risk was 62% greatest in those with the lowest levels of DHA.

According to Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, acting chief, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, “Omega-3 is already recommended by the American Psychiatric Association as adjunctive therapy for anybody with a psychiatric disorder, especially for those with major depression.”

Suicide rates in military personnel have doubled since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and now “rival the battlefield in toll.” Other data and research suggests that nutritional deficiencies in the omega-3 fatty acids may increase vulnerability to combat deployment stress, manifesting as psychiatric symptoms including adjustment disorders, PTSD, substance abuse and alcoholism, major depression, impulsive violence, and suicide. In addition, studies conducted in civilian populations have also suggested that low DHA levels are linked to increased risk for suicide attempts and may contribute to adverse psychiatric symptoms.

Comments by Dr. C.E. Gant, a leading authority on brain disorders such as ADHD, addiction and PTSD follows: I suppose that the immediate response to this horrific data would be to somehow ensure that all military personnel receive 2 or 3 concentrated fish oil capsules a day, which would likely assure adequate delivery of DHA and offset the incidence of depression and suicide in most individuals. Such a widely applied treatment would be consistent with the current paradigm of medical care, e.g. – prevent or treat symptoms or conditions by blindly prescribing an intervention without first attempting to diagnostically determine who is the most vulnerable to certain conditions, based on their nutritional status, heredity or environmental stressors.

Use Functional Lab Testing

Simple, inexpensive, laboratory testing can measure DHA, its precursor fatty acids and also critically important, mood-elevating, omega 6 fatty acids, in order to determine who is nutritionally the most vulnerable to suicide and depression (1). Several B vitamins (B3, B5, B6, biotin), a few minerals (zinc, magnesium), vitamin C and carnitine (a nutrient involved with fatty acid metabolism), are all needed as cofactors to assist 4 enzymes in the synthesis of DHA. These simple functional laboratory tests could determine who would have the greatest difficulty in synthesizing DHA, and thus possesses the most vulnerability to depression and suicide.

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