TOYAMA, JAPAN. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a major component in fish oil capsules, is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. It is becoming increasingly clear that a deficiency of this important nutrient can have far-ranging negative effects from fetus to old age.
Japanese researchers now add to the evidence of the importance of DHA by their discovery that supplementation with DHA-rich fish oil capsules eliminates stress-induced aggressive behaviour among university students. Their trial involved 41 medical students who were randomized to receive fish oil capsules providing 1.5 – 1.8 grams/day of DHA or soybean oil based placebo capsules. The trial was started during the last days of summer vacation in September and was completed during the highly stressful exam time in December. Administration of the P-F (picture-frustration) test in December revealed that students who had taken the placebo capsules for the 3-month trial period showed a substantial increase in aggression whereas those who had supplemented with DHA actually exhibited less aggression than they had at the end of their summer vacation.
The researchers conclude that DHA supplementation, often through fish oil capsules, prevents an increase in aggressive behaviour during times of mental stress. They further speculate that this aggression-reducing effect may translate into a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Hamazaki, Tomohito, et al. The effect of docosahexaenoic acid on aggression in young adults. Journal of Clinical Investigation, Vol. 97, No. 4, February 1996, pp. 1129-34