Nutrition plays a minor role in psychiatric practice which is currently dominated by a pharmacological treatment algorithm. An accumulating body of evidence has implicated deficits in the dietary essential long-chain omega-3 (LCn-3) fatty acids, eicosapenaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in the pathophysiology of several major psychiatric disorders.

LCn-3 fatty acids have an established long-term safety record in the general population, and existing evidence suggests that increasing LCn-3 fatty acid status may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality.

LCn-3 fatty acid supplementation has been shown to augment the therapeutic efficacy of antidepressant, mood-stabilizer, and second generation antipsychotic medications, and may additionally mitigate adverse cardiometabolic side-effects.

Preliminary evidence also suggests that LCn-3 fatty acid supplementation may be efficacious as monotherapy for primary and early secondary prevention and for perinatal symptoms. The overall cost-benefit ratio endorses the incorporation of LCn-3 fatty acids into psychiatric treatment algorithms.

The recent availability of laboratory facilities that specialize in determining blood LCn-3 fatty acid status and emerging evidence-based consensus guidelines regarding safe and efficacious LCn-3 fatty acid dose ranges provide the infrastructure necessary for implementation.

This article outlines the rationale for incorporating LCn-3 fatty acid treatment into psychiatric practice.