BETHESDA, Md., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids may be a factor in mental illnesses, U.S. researchers suggest.
The study, published in Behavioral Neuroscience, named two omega-3 fatty acids -- docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid -- as key to maintaining a nervous system capable of avoiding sensory overload.
The researchers suggest low omega-3 may be linked to the information-processing problems found in people with afflictions of the nervous system including schizophrenia and bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders.
The researchers looked at nervous system function in the offspring of four groups of pregnant mice that had been fed different diets with no or varying types and amounts of omega-3s. Only the mice raised on the two omega-3 fatty acids showed normal, adaptive sensorimotor nervous responses that did not result in the animals being perpetually startled and easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.
"It is an uphill battle now to reverse the message that 'fats are bad,' and to increase omega-3 fats in our diet," study leader Norman Salem Jr. of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda said in a statement.