Omega-3 fatty acids could reduce aggression, study meta-analysis suggests

Published: 7-Jun-2024

Results indicate that short-term omega-3 supplementation could reduce aggression by up to 30%, irrespective of age and gender

A novel meta-analysis from the University of Pennsylvania has suggested that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can lower aggression across a range of age groups and genders. 

Since research had shown a correlation between poor nutritional intake and behavioural issues, Adrian Raine wanted to determine if supplementation with omega-3s could have the potential to reduce aggression across the board.


The study

From the meta-analysis of 29 randomised, controlled clinical trials, Adrian Raine unveiled evidence that omega-3s can be useful in reducing aggression by up to 30%. This effect was seen across age, gender, diagnosis, treatment duration and dosage.

The study suggested it reduced both reactive aggression — which occurs in the moment — and proactive aggression, which is planned. It’s important to note, however, that these studies were all proof of short-term aggression reduction, and the long-term impacts of omega-3 supplementation on behaviour is currently unknown.

The paper, published in Aggressive and Violent Behavior, suggests the impact of omega-3s outside of traditionally discussed benefits — such as its heart health benefits.


Omega-3s can be useful in reducing aggression by up to 30%


Adrian Raine commented: “I think the time has come to use omega-3 supplementation to reduce aggression, irrespective of whether the setting is the community, the clinic, or the criminal justice system. Omega-3 is not going to completely solve the problem of violence in society. But can it help? Based on these findings, we firmly believe it can, and we should start to act on the new knowledge we have.”

“At the very least, we would argue that omega-3 supplementation should be considered as an adjunct to other interventions, whether they be psychological or pharmacological. We believe its crucial to investigate its longer-term efficacy to get a better idea of how this ingredient can impact behaviour.”


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