Low levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are obtained in diet and concentrated in the brain, have been linked to several neurobehavioral disorders.

Preliminary trials of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation [Linolenic (LNA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA)] for clinical depression and other disorders have reported benefit.

Here, we examine relationships of these lipids to normative variability of mood and personality in a non-patient community sample.
Participants were 106 (age = 54.24 [SD = 8.72], 50.9% female) hypercholesterolemic, but otherwise healthy adults. None smoked, took fish oil supplements or psychotropic drugs.

Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II), the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) and the NEO-FFI. Fasting serum fatty acids were assayed with gas chromatography. Fatty acids were quantified as a percentage of the total fatty acid pool. Covariates were age, gender and race.

Logistic regression showed increased EPA % and DHA % were associated with lower odds for scoring in the mild-to-moderate range (>/= 10 [n=17]) of the BDI (EPA: OR = .51 per 1 SD increase [CI= .27 - .97, p =.038]; DHA: OR = .42 [.21-.84, p = .015]). Linear regression showed lower % of EPA (ß = -.284, R2 (square) change = .078, p = .005) and DHA (ß = -.327, Rˆ2 change = .102, p = .001) to be associated with higher NEO-Neuroticism scores, whereas DHA was positively associated with NEO-Agreeableness (ß = .199, Rˆ2 change = .037, p = .044). LNA % was negatively associated with BIS Total (ß = -.263, Rˆ2 change = .068, p =.008).

In conjunction with published research, these data suggest that dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids may be a determinant of normative variability in affect regulation, impulse control and personality.