Low Omega-3 linked to Suicide?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 25, 2011 at 8:09 PM


I just came across this and thought the people here would get a pretty good discussion going. Thoughts?


on August 25, 2011
at 11:25 PM

+1 for nice article find and sharing.


on August 25, 2011
at 10:22 PM

Actually, this study reported in your link is the outcome of Dr. Hibbeln's work that I cited below in my answer and in another PH board question earlier. Great! More publicity - making it to the LA Times! More media, more push to get Dr. Hibbeln's work out there in practical form - changing the diet of the netire military, specifically in reference to O3/O6 ratios.



on August 25, 2011
at 09:01 PM

A well known fact among the paleo community or among the CW community?



on August 25, 2011
at 08:52 PM

It is a well known fact that a lack of omega 3s can results in various brain/mood disorders: suicide, depression, baby blues (and even preeclampsia), bipolar disorder...etc

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on August 25, 2011
at 09:05 PM

It's a bit strange that articles like this blame a lack of supplementation rather than a poor diet. There's even the implication that eggs only contain it when the hens are supplemented with DHA.


on August 25, 2011
at 10:18 PM

Read the following article. This US Public Health Service MD/psychiatrist has made exactly this issue his life's passion and work. And he's making inroads, albeit with enormous effort.


"We careen through the streets of Bethesda and finally pull up to a guard station at the National Naval Medical Center, where we are meeting Colonel Mike Lewis, M.D., M.P.H., one of Hibbeln???s collaborators, to talk about some new studies. A soldier in dusty fatigues salutes and waves us in. ???Sir, very good sir.??? Hibbeln returns the salute. Hibbeln tells me that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in the U.S. military are affecting 20 percent of those who have been deployed. He points to construction vehicles and men in hard hats who swarm around the medical center. ???They???re building new treatment facilities to capture this flood of psychiatric distress,??? he says. ???If I can get the military to change their diet, show that it works to reduce depression and suicide there, then there???s a great potential for societal change.???

"After a few hair-raising attempts to secure parking, we find Lewis in the waiting area for Pulmonary Medicine. He and Hibbeln recently received Department of Defense funds to compare blood samples from 800 servicepeople who committed suicide between 2002 and 2008 to those of 800 healthy people in the military (matched by age, sex and rank) to see if low omega-3 levels are linked with likelihood of suicide. No results yet."

"In addition, the U.S. Army recently awarded the duo almost $1 million to study the effects of giving omega-3 supplements to a special-operations unit that spends a third of the year in combat. They will give half the unit the omega-3 supplements and the other half a placebo, every day for a year, and then follow them for a couple of months to see if the omega-3s might prevent occurrences of depression and suicidal thinking. Hibbeln calls it giving ???nutritional armor to the war fighter.??? They???re also looking at whether it might protect a soldier should he or she suffer traumatic brain injury???not an unlikely occurrence for special-ops persons who jump from planes and engage in combat."

"In 1995, Hibbeln and Salem published the paper that launched Hibbeln???s career in this field, an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition presenting the theory he had been working out ever since he first held that lump of brain in his hands: mental illness could very well be a result of omega-3 deficiency."

"His reasoning is this: The modern American diet is vastly different from the one upon which our ancestors evolved. Our ancestors consumed about equal amounts of omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats, the other polyunsaturated fats (found in vegetable oils) that compete with omega-3s for space in the brain. Today, Americans get 10 to 25 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, partly because we don???t eat as many omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon and sardines (or wild animals, which are also higher in omega-3s), but mostly because our diets now contain processed foods that are packed with omega-6-rich oils, including oils made from soybeans, safflower and corn."

"Hibbeln presented the possibility that this dramatic shift could have changed the way our brains function???sort of as if a car designed to run on unleaded gas suddenly started using diesel. Might it even trigger or perpetuate psychiatric illnesses? Hibbeln offers an interesting correlation: statistics suggest that depression and homicide rates have risen steadily over the past century???the same time period during which Americans??? annual per capita intake of omega-6-rich oils increased by nearly 500 percent, from 11 pounds to 64 pounds."

I'd suggest taking a stroll and regular reads through Emily Deans' MD blog. Here's a handy subject/tag guide to it.


Andrew Stoll, MD, (another psychiatrist) did groundbreaking omega-3/mood disorder (in this case, with bipolars) in the 90's. The response to the omega 3 was so robust that for ethical reasons, they had to "break" the study and start offering O-3 to those who were taking olive or other inactive oil.

He wrote an excellent book.



on August 25, 2011
at 09:35 PM

I was not aware of the connection between low omega 3 and suicide attempts, but it has been established several years ago that there is a strong benefit of omega 3 rich diets for the treatment of depression, which is clearly a related condition: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100621111238.htm

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