A preliminary study suggests a cheap, easy-to-find supplement could help young people with signs of mental illness from descending into schizophrenia.
More research is needed to determine if fish oil can really prevent the disease. It's cause remains unknown.
In the Austrian study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, 41 patients were instructed to take four fish oil pills a day for three months. Forty other patients were given placebos. After a year of monitoring, two of the fish oil patients had become psychotic, while 11 of those on dummy pills were completely out of touch with reality.
One hypothesis of the cause of schizophrenia is that people with the disease don't process fatty acids correctly, leading to damaged brain cells.
The researchers speculate the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil could help brain cells repair and stabilize.