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Ask Tufts Experts July 2012 Issue

Q: Is there anything nutritionally you could recommend that might help someone with bipolar disorder?

Answer :  Tammy Scott, PhD, a scientist at Tufts’ HNRCA Nutrition and Neurocognition Laboratory, cautions against any blanket recommendation for treatment of such a complex disorder, and suggests consulting with the treating physician before trying any nutritional therapy. She notes, however, that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (nccam.nih.gov) has reported on studies of omega-3 fatty acids for bipolar disorder. According to a recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, omega-3 supplements may be helpful for people with bipolar disorder as a complement to standard care. The review authors also “strongly recommend that patients with psychiatric disorders should not elect supplementation with omega-3 in lieu of established psychiatric treatment options.” They further recommend studies to look at how the nutrient may work, and large trials to conclusively determine the utility of omega-3 fatty acids in psychiatric care.

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