Food and Behaviour Research

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Are neurodegenerative disorder and psychotic manifestations avoidable brain dysfunctions with adequate dietary omega-3?

Saugstad L.F. (2006) Nutr Health 18(2) 89-101 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


The present mismatch between what our brain needs, and the modern diet neglects our marine heritage. Last century, the priority in nutrition and food production was to achieve a high protein diet and somatic growth and function. The dietary content of omega-3 (N-3) required by the brain was neglected although evidence for the essentiality of certain fatty acids was published in 1929 and specifically re-affirmed for omega 3 in the brain in the 1970s.

Cognitive decline with age and neurodegenerative disorder with dementia are now rising. This review describes signs of N-3 deficit in Alzheimer and Parkinson Disease, where maximum change involves the primary sites: olfactory cortex and the hippocampus. The olfactory agnosia observed in schizophrenia supports an N-3 deficit as does a reduction of key ologodendrocyte- and myelin-related genes in this disorder and affective disorder, where a rise in dementia accords with a deficit of N-3 also in this disorder. N-3 normalizes cerebral excitability at all levels.

That the two disorders are localized at the extremes of excitability, is supported by their opposing treatments: convulsant neuroleptics and anti-epileptic anti-depressants. An adequate N-3 diet will probably prevent most psychotic episodes and prove that neurodegenerative disorder with dementia is also to a large extent not only preventable but avoidable.