A new study suggests that Omega 3 deficiency and suicide amongst soldiers might be related

Over the last few weeks we have talked about the link between Omega 3 fats and various mental disorders, including just recently discussing the results of a new study showing a link between ADHD, Omega 3 fatty acids and improvements in learning outcomes.

Just landed on our desk is a report of a new study which also talks about a related matter, the possible role of low levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in suicide.
Omega 3 and suicide
This study has been reported on the website psychiatrist.com, and notes an escalation in the number of deaths by suicide amongst the US military over recent times.

Could Omega 3 deficiency and suicide be related somehow?

The study sought to determine whether deficiencies in the Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, were associated with an increased risk of suicide amongst members of the US military.

Participants in the study were active US military personnel.

The results of study were that the risk of death by suicide amongst US military personnel was 62 percent greater amongst those with a low serum DHA status.

In fact the evidence suggested that low levels of DHA were a stronger predictor of the likelihood of suicide than factors which are expected to be more powerful, and in particular whether or not the particular individual was exposed to the death of another soldier.

Of course this does not prove that a low level of DHA contributes to the risk of suicide, or causes suicide. Clearly there are other factors at work and amongst US military personnel, particularly amongst active personnel, and these must also be taken into account. But it would suggest that DHA deficiency may well rank up there with those other factors as potential contributing factors, and may be one of the biggest.

Suicide is a problem for the military

Levels of suicide in the US military personnel are much higher than levels of suicide amongst the general population. In fact the defence Department recognizes the problem of suicide among soldiers and is actively encouraging US service personnel to seek help where they feel and they need ti, as well as attempting to identify any soldier who may be particularly at risk.

There may also be an issue for the military as far as their food preparation goes. It was generally found that service personnel have low levels of DHA, and perhaps the military could consider improving the diet of soldiers by offering some Omega 3 fortified foods, although preferably by offering soldiers Omega 3 capsules, as Omega 3 fortified foods may not be all that effective.

However there is also no doubt that further study should be undertaken to ascertain what role low levels of Omega 3 fats, and DHA in particular, may play in increasing the risk of suicide.

It’s a fascinating question, and as more evidence comes to light we shall bring it to you.

Source of the study

 

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