BETHESDA, MARYLAND. Several studies have found a link between low cholesterol levels and an increased tendency to violence, suicide, and depression. Scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism believe that the real culprit in this association is low concentrations of 5- hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) in the cerebrospinal fluid and that it is the blood level of polyunsaturated fatty acids rather than the levels of cholesterol which affect 5-HIAA levels. 5-HIAA is a metabolite of serotonin.
ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND. Researchers at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism believe that the increasing rates of depression seen in North America over the last 100 years are due to a significant shift in the ratio of n-6 (arachidonic acid, linoleic acid) to n-3 (docosahexaenoic acid, linolenic acid) fatty acids in the diet. The human race evolved on a diet having a ratio of about 1:1 of these acids; it is now estimated to be between 10:1 and 25:1. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a main component of the synaptic membranes and a lack of it has been linked to depression.
LONDON, UK. There is evidence that schizophrenia is associated with an abnormal metabolism of unsaturated fatty acids in both blood plasma and red blood cells. This abnormality, in turn, is associated with extraordinary low levels of long-chain unsaturated fatty acids such as AA, EPA and DHA (arachidonic, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids, respectfully) in cell membranes.