Low dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to several features of psychiatric symptomatology, including depression, disorders of impulse control, and hostility.

Preliminary intervention trials of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for clinical depression and other disorders have reported benefit. However, few studies have investigated the relationships between these fatty acids and normative variability in mood, behavior and personality.

Participants were 105 hypercholesterolemic, but otherwise healthy, non-smoking adults. Fasting serum alpha-linolenic (alpha-LNA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were assayed with gas chromatography. Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the NEO Five Factor Personality Inventory (NEO-FFI) and the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS). In multivariate analyses, higher levels of the long chain omega-3 PUFAs, EPA and DHA, were associated with significantly reduced odds of scoring >or=10 on the BDI. Similarly, DHA and EPA covaried inversely with NEO-Neuroticism scores, whereas DHA was positively associated with NEO-Agreeableness.

On the BIS, DHA was inversely related to cognitive impulsivity and alpha-LNA was inversely related to motor and total impulsivity.

These findings suggest that omega-3 fatty acid status is associated with variability in affect regulation, personality and impulse control.