Can mackerel calm the masses?
Australian researchers have conducted a pilot feasibility study that linked low levels of omega-3 fatty acids to acts of aggression among prisoners. The findings are similar to those of previous studies conducted in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and elsewhere.
“What they found was that fish oil and multi-vitamins and minerals reduced the number and severity of reprimands by up to 35 percent,” associate professor Barbara Meyer, Director of the Metabolic Research Center at the University of Wollongong, said in a segment about the trial on (Austrialian) ABC television.
Researchers studied 136 male inmates with a history of violence, via in-depth questionnaires about aggression and impulsivity. They also measured the levels of omega-3 in their blood.
“What we see over here is that those people who had real difficulty in managing their emotions and in dealing with frustration had the lowest levels of baseline omega-3," said Dr. Mitchell Byrne, clinical and forensic psychologist, and director of clinical training at the University of Wollongong. "And it's entirely consistent with research from other fields that talk about the management of depression, the management of anxiety through the supplementation of omega-3."
The study, a preliminary trial to determine the feasibility of a larger, multi-prison study, suggests that supplementing prisoners with low omega-3 levels to bring them up to normal or optimal levels could potentially reduce the levels of aggression and attention deficit disorder.
“We were flabbergasted,” said Meyer, “but that’s what we found.”