A small study published recently in the journal Bipolar Disorders suggests there may be a link between levels of omega-3 fatty acids and bipolar disorder. Researchers compared 27 people with bipolar disorder and 31 people without the mental illness. Those with bipolar disorder had lower levels of certain omega-3 fatty acids that can cross the blood-brain barrier, the study authors found. “Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can shift the balance of inflammation, which we think is important in bipolar disorder,” study leader Erika Saunders, an associate professor and chairwoman of psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine in College Park, Pa., said in a school news release.
They are now looking at whether increasing the amount of fatty acids in bipolar patients’ diets may benefit them. “We are actively pursuing the next step in this line of inquiry, to get to the point where we know what changes in diets are going to help people with bipolar disorder so they can have another option beyond the medications that are currently available,” Saunder said.