The modern diet of industrialized countries has helped create an imbalance in the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. The ratio of these fatty acids is key for optimal brain functions.
Researchers from Spain studied this imbalance by feeding mice a diet deficient in omega-3 fatty acid creating an omega-3 and omega-6 imbalance in the mice. The diet induced low omega-3 levels led to poor synaptic functions and emotional behaviors.
Researchers found that in the mice with the omega-3 deficient diet, certain aspects of synaptic plasticity in the brain related to reward, motivation and emotional regulation were disturbed.
According to the researchers, the study provides the first biological explanation for the observed correlation between omega-3 poor diets and mood disorders such as depression.
“Our results can now corroborate clinical and epidemiological studies which have revealed associations between an omega-3/omega-6 imbalance and mood disorders”, explain Olivier Manzoni and Sophie Layé. “To determine if the omega-3 deficiency is responsible for these neuropsychiatric disorders additional studies are, of course, required”.