Omega-6 Fatty Acid Linked to Lower Risk of Bipolar Disorder: Study

by [email protected]

Researchers have uncovered an interesting link between an omega-6 fatty acid found in eggs, poultry, and seafood to reduced risk of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by drastic mood swings, ranging from intense emotional highs (mania or hypomania) to lows (depression). Previous studies have shown that bipolar disease is strongly influenced by genetics, but the precise cause is not known.

According to the latest study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, higher lipid levels of arachidonic acid are associated with a lower risk of bipolar disorder. The study suggests that bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions are connected to alterations in metabolite levels. This sheds light on potential pathways that contribute to these conditions.

The new study also indicates the possibility of using dietary intervention to prevent or slow down the progression of psychiatric disorders.

“Accumulating evidence indicates a role for metabolites in bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders. By identifying metabolites that play causal roles in bipolar disorder, we hoped to be able to highlight potential lifestyle or dietary interventions,” lead investigator David Stacey said in a news release.

The researchers identified 33 out of 913 metabolites present in the blood that were associated with bipolar disorder, most of them lipids. They also discovered a group of genes known as the FADS1/2/3 gene cluster was linked to an increased risk of bipolar disorder. They found that these genes influence the relationship between bipolar disorder and the levels of arachidonic acid and other metabolites in the body.

“Arachidonic acid is typically a widely present omega-6 fatty acid in the body and brain that contributes to the health of cell membranes. This study provides a fascinating step forward in the effort to develop blood biomarkers of bipolar disorder risk, particularly in those patients with bipolar disorder and risk gene variations in the FADS1/2/3 gene cluster,” Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, said.

Meat and seafood products are good dietary sources of arachidonic acid. It can also be synthesized from sources of dietary linoleic acid such as from nuts, seeds, and oils.

The researchers state that their study is groundbreaking as it's the first to suggest a possible causal link between arachidonic acid and bipolar disorder. However, they recommend that additional preclinical studies and randomized controlled trials are necessary to understand the potential preventative or therapeutic benefits of arachidonic acid supplements, particularly for people with lower natural synthesis of arachidonic acid and limited intake from dietary sources.

“Our findings also support potential avenues for precision health interventions focused on early life to ensure that infants and children are receiving enough arachidonic acid and other polyunsaturated fatty acids to support optimal brain development, which may also reduce the risk of bipolar disorder,” Dr. Stacey said.

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