eISSN: 2084-9885
ISSN: 1896-6764
Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia/Neuropsychiatry and Neuropsychology
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vol. 7

Review article
Fatty acids in human diet and cognitive and emotional functioning

Agnieszka Wilczyńska

Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia 2012; 7, 1: 35–42
Online publish date: 2012/07/11
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This article presents the evidence accumulated over the last two decades on the importance of fatty acids in psychological human functioning (cognitive and emotional).

In particular, the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, which on the one hand lost attention and became scarce in the modern human diet and on the other hand most likely became a primary cause of degenerative diseases, including mental disorders and cerebrovascular illness, is reviewed.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids constitute key structural components of all cell membranes. They are highly concentrated in the nervous system. There is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can improve cognitive function in individuals and also reduce symptoms of dementia, Alzheimer disease and depression. The positive impact of diet on cognitive processes and emotional functioning was also found in young healthy people. The researchers report that omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may indeed improve cognitive processes and affect mood.

The review of included descriptive and experimental studies reveals the importance of fatty acids not only in therapy but also in prevention of disorders and identifies new opportunities to promote human development through optimal use of capabilities.

However, the currently available data on the influence of fatty acids on psychological functioning are still insufficient to make conclusions on preventive therapy. More trials are needed for confirmation.

fatty acids, diet, cognitive functioning, emotional functioning

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