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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 ( 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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