People suffering from bipolar disorder which causes manic episodes, including extreme highs and lows have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and this could be causing the problem. Bipolar drugs also interfere with the body`s ability to process the fats properly.
Instead of using powerful drugs with serious side effects, a bipolar patient could instead supplement with omega-3s or eat more fish, vegetable oils, nuts and especially walnuts flax seeds and leafy vegetables.
Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine and the US`s National Institutes of Health have discovered that bipolar patients, who often also suffer from depression, have lower levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than those found in healthy people.
They assessed the fatty acid levels of 27 bipolar patents and compared them to those of 31 healthy people.
Although their levels were lower, the bipolar patients were also less able to process the fats. The fats normally cross the blood-brain barrier, but are unable to do so if they are bound to a protein. One reason could be that the drugs for bipolar interfere with the body`s normal abilities to process the fats.
The latest research underlines the important of the omega fatty acids and brain health. Earlier studies have found they help overcome depression.
The omega-3 fats in particular are an important component of the cells in the brain, and help with cell-to-cell communication.
They also help reduce inflammation, and researchers say that inflammation plays a key role in bipolar and depressive episodes.
Earlier studies had found that omega-3 didn`t help alleviate bipolar symptoms, but this could have been because the patient was still taking the medication, which may have blocked the body`s ability to process the fatty acids properly.
(Source: Bipolar Disorders, 2015; 17: 729)