Studies seem to point to EPA working better than DHA for schizophrenia. But before you run out and buy EPA, you should know that the overall conclusion researchers are coming to in regards to omega-3’s is that the ratio of fats you take in is very important. That means that a healthy balance of fatty acids, including enough omega-3’s, is what will help you. Downing an EPA-only or DHA-only capsule just might bring you zero reduction in symptoms. The same goes for disregarding your ratio of omega-3’s to omega-6 fatty acids. You need to take into consideration your typical intake of fat in your diet. Most Americans have a diet that is relatively high in omega-6’s.
Supplementation with omega-3’s seems to have the greatest impact on symptom reduction in newly diagnosed schizophrenics who are not taking antipsychotic medication. One study reported that such a person had normalized membrane fatty acid levels after three years on omega-3’s. The ventricular dilation in this subject’s brain also reversed.
Some studies suggest that schizophrenics taking omega-3 supplements in addition to clozapine had greater improvement than those taking omega-3’s with other antipsychotic medications.
However, not all studies reported a positive outcome from supplementing with omega-3’s. One actually showed a worsening of symptoms from taking 3 grams of EPA with an antipsychotic. Researchers hypothesized that this outcome was due to the fact that the subject had had schizophrenia for a long time and that the dose of EPA was high.
Abnormal phospholipid metabolism has been implicated in schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia have low levels of phosphomonoesters and high levels of phosphodiesters, especially in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. This reflects low phospholipid synthesis and faster than normal phospholipid breakdown. The enzyme that breaks down phospholipids, phospholipase A2, is elevated in the blood and brain in schizophrenia. EPA inhibits phospholipase A2, resulting in an increase in arachidonic acid in red blood cell membranes, which reflects fatty acid levels.
In schizophrenia, at least one study has shown that cell membranes of red blood cells have low levels of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3’s also keep your triglycerides down by inhibiting the liver’s production of them.
Schizophrenia is associated with heart disease. Omega-3’s are excellent for the heart as well as the nervous system.