As long as seven years after getting a 12-week course of Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, new research has found that young people at very high risk of developing schizophrenia were much less likely than those who did not get the supplements to develop full-blown psychosis, or to manifest a range of psychiatric disorders that commonly afflict such young adults.

The new research is the first to document rigorously the impact of fish oil supplements as a means of preventing severe psychiatric disease. The apparent effects of a brief regimen of fish oil capsules were both lasting and far-ranging in a population of young adults whose mental health is fragile.

Published this week in Nature Communications, the latest study adds further luster to fish oil’s reputation as potentially powerful psychiatric therapy. Omega-3 fatty acids–found plentifully in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel but also available in fish oil capsules–have long been shown to boost the effectiveness of antidepressants and to improve attention both in those with ADHD and those without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

In the young and cognitively healthy, fish oil supplementation has been found to improve working memory performance as well.

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