Toggle Health Problems and D

People felt less aggression after just 6 weeks of Omega-3 – RCT Dec 2017

Omega-3 supplements reduce self-reported physical aggression in healthy adults

Psychiatry Research December 2017, DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.12.038


 Download the PDF from VitaminDWiki

Laurent Beguea’Laurent.Begue@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr , Ap Zaalbergb, Rebecca Shanklanda, Aaron Dukea, Julie Jacqueta,
Perla Kalimanc, Lucie Penneld, Marc Chanovee, Philippe Arversa, Brad J. Bushmanf
a LIP/PC2S, University Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France.
b Ministry of Security and Justice, Crime, Law Enforcement and Sanctions Research Division (CRS), The Hague, The Netherlands.
c Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis, United States.
d University Hospital, University Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France.
e MSH Alpes, CNRS/University Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France.
f School of Communication and Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States.

There is emerging evidence that Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) supplements can decrease aggression. However, experimental studies with adults from non-specific populations are scarce. We hypothesized that Omega-3 supplements would decrease self-reported aggression among non-clinical participants. In a doubleblind randomized trial, two groups of participants (N = 194) aged 18-45 from the general population followed a 6-weeks treatment with 638 mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 772 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day or the equivalent quantity of copra oil (placebo).
Self-reported aggressiveness was measured at baseline and after the 6-week treatment period. Findings showed that Omega-3 supplements significantly decreased self-reported aggressiveness at the end of the 6-week period (d = 0.31).

In conclusion, this experiment indicates that Omega-3 administration has beneficial effects in reducing aggression among the general population.


As predicted, this experiment showed that omega-3 supplements decreased self-reported aggression levels among non-clinical, adult participants. The effect size d = 0.31 exceeded the benchmark value of d = 0.25, which is reserved for treatments labeled as significant, important, notable, and consequential (Promising Practices Network (PPN), 2014). Thus, the reduction in aggression levels caused by taking omega- 3 supplements for 6 weeks was not trivial.
This experiment had five primary strengths.

  • First, the sample size was larger than in similar studies. However sample size estimates (see Cohen, 1988) suggested that to detect an effect of d = 0.31, with the power set at 0.80, a much larger sample would be necessary (approximately 335). The power of the present study was estimated at 0.57. *Second, it used a sample of participants from the general population rather than a clinical sample.
  • Third, it isolated the effects of omega-3 fatty acids from other nutritional supplements that might influence aggressiveness.
  • Fourth, the double-blind procedure was successful. An inherent problem in the study of fatty acid is keeping participants blind to conditions due to the fishy aftertaste of fish oil. For example, in one study 49% of participants guessed they were taking fish oil at the beginning of the study, which rose to 75% at the end of the study (Zaalberg, 2010; also see Giles et al., 2015). In order to keep participants blind to their condition, all participants were told that the pills could have a fishy aftertaste.
  • Fifth, it used a valid and reliable objective measure of aggressiveness.

This experiment also had at least four weaknesses.

  • First, we did not measure long-term patterns of dietary intake, so the intake estimates might be inaccurate.
  • Second, we did not have access to biological samples from the participants that could be used to determine the cellular levels of omega-3 fatty acids. However, most omega-3 studies share this limitation.
  • Third, we only studied short-term effects of omega-3 after taking supplements for only 6 weeks. It would be important for both clinical and social purposes to investigate the longterm effects of omega-3 supplements on aggressiveness. However, it is worth noting that a meta-analysis found no relationship between the length of omega-3 supplementation and ADHD problems (Cooper et al., 2016).
  • Fourth, the outcome measure was a self-report measure of aggression, which represents a weaker measure than a behavioral measure of aggression (e.g., Gesch et al., 2002). It should also be noted that the levels of aggressiveness in the study population were very low at baseline.

We offer three suggestions for future research.

  • First, we recommend taking blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids in future studies. Blood samples might be better predictors of study outcomes. Blood samples also provide the opportunity to test hypotheses about genetic determinants of responding to omega-3 fatty acids, as has for instance been suggested for the ApoE4 allele carriers (van de Rest et al., 2008; Plourde et al., 2009). Blood samples also provide the opportunity to test possible interactions with other nutrients.
  • Second, some omega-3 fatty acid studies suggest that effects in non-aggressive study populations are more pronounced under stressful conditions (Hamazaki et al., 1996). Future experiments can directly test this hypothesis by also manipulating the level of stress.
  • Third, because levels of physical aggressiveness turned out to be very low in our study population, it also might be useful to measure other aspects of aggressiveness, such as verbal aggressiveness.

In conclusion, this experiment suggests that omega-3 administration may reduce physical aggression in the general population. This is an important positive effect of omega-3 supplements, in addition to their many other positive benefits.
Funding: This research was funded by Ministry of Health, France.


  • Arterburn, L.M., Hall, E.B., Oken, H., 2006. Distribution, interconversion and dose response of n-3 fatty acids in humans. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 83, 1467-1476.
  • Bazinet, R.P., Laye, S., 2014. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and their metabolites in brain function and disease. Nat. Rev. Neurol. 15, 771-785.
  • Becker, G., 2007. The buss-perry aggression questionnaire: some unfinished business. J. Res. Pers. 41, 434-452.
  • Begue, L., Subra, B., Arvers, P., Muller, D., Bricout, V., Zorman, M., 2009. The message, not the bottle: extrapharmacological effects of alcohol on aggression. J. Exp. Soc. Psycol. 45, 137-142.
  • Benton, D., 2007. The impact of diet on anti-social, violent and criminal behavior. Neurol. Biobehav. Rev. 31, 752-774.
  • Bloch, M.H., Qawasmi, A., 2011. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for the treatment of children with attention deficit disorder symptomatology: systematic review and meta-analysis. J. Am. Acad. Child Adol. Psychiatry 50, 991-1000.
  • Bourre, J.M., Dumont, O., Piciotti, M., Clement, M., Chaudiere, J., Bonneil, M., Nalbone, G., Lafont, H., Pascal, G., Durand, G., 1991. Essentiality of Omega 3 fatty acids for brain structure and function. World Rev. Nutr. Diet. 66, 103-117.
  • Buss, A.H., Perry, M., 1992. The aggression questionnaire. J. Pers. Soc. Psycol. 63, 452-459.
  • Cohen, J., 1988. Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioeral Sciences, Second edition. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, Hillsdale, New Jersey (ISBN 0-80850283-5).
  • Cooper, R., Tye, C., Kunsti, J., Vassos, E., Asherson, P., 2016. The effect of Omega-3 polyunsatutated fatty acid supplementation on emotional dysregulation, oppositional behavior and conduct problems in ADHD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J. Affect. Disord. 190, 474-482.
  • Dean, A.J., Bor, W., Adam, K., Bowling, F.G., Bellgrove, M.A., 2014. A randomized, controlled, crossover trial of fish oil treatment for impulsive aggression in children and adolescents with disruptive behavior disorders. Child Adol. Psychopharm. 24, 140-148.
  • Fontani, G., Corradeschi, F., Felici, A., Alfatti, F., Migliorini, S., Lodi, L., 2005. Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects. Eur. J. Clin. Investig. 35, 691-699.
  • Gajos, J., Beaver, K., 2016. The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on aggression: a metaanalysis. Neurol. Biobehav. Rev. 69, 147-158.
    10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.07.017 Publisher wants $36 for the PDF
  • Gesch, C.B., Hammond, S.M., Hampson, S.E., Eves, A., Crowder, M.J., 2002. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners: randomised, placebo- controlled trial. Br. J. Psychiatry 181, 22-28.
  • Giles, G.E., Mahoney, C.R., Urry, H.L., Brunye, T.T., Taylor, H.A., Kanarek, R.B., 2015. Omega-3 fatty acids and stress-induced changes to mood and cognition in healthy individuals. Pharmacol., Biochem. Behav. 132, 10-19.
  • Hamazaki, T., Sawazaki, S., Kobayashi, M., 1996. The effect of docosahexaenoic acid on aggression in young adults. A double- blind study. J. Clin. Investig. 97, 1129-1133.
  • Hibbeln, J.R., 2001. Homicide mortality rates and seafood consumption: a cross-national analysis. World Rev. Nutr. Diet. 88, 41-46.
  • Hibbeln, J.R., Davis, J.M., Steer, C., Emmett, P., Rogers, I., Williams, C., Golding, J., 2007. Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. Lancet 17 (369), 578-585.
  • Hirayama, S., Hamazaki, T., Terasawa, K., 2004. Effect of docosahexaenoic acid- containing food administration on symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a placebo-controlled double-blind study. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 58, 467-477.
  • Iribarren, C., Markovitz, J.H., Jacobs Jr, D.R., Schreiner, P.J., Daviglus, M., Hibbeln, J.R., 2004. Dietary intake of n-3, n-6 fatty acids and fish: relationship with hostility in young adults- the CARDIA study. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 58, 24-31.
  • Kalminj, S., et al., 2004. Dietary intake of fatty acids and fish in relation to cognitive performance at middle age. Neurology 62, 275-280.
  • Kirby, A., Woodward, A., Jackson, S., Wang, Y., Crawford, M., 2010. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigating the effects of Omega-3 supplementation in children aged 8-10 years from a mainstream school population. Res. Dev. Disab. 31, 718-730.
  • Krahe, B., 2001. The Social Psychology of Aggression. Psychology Press, Hove.
  • Lilienfeld, S.O., Wood, J.M., Garb, H.N., 2000. The scientific status of projective techniques. Psychol. Sci. Pub. Interest 1 (27), 27-66.
  • Logan, A.C., 2003. Neurobehavioral aspects of omega —3 fatty acids: possible mechanisms and therapeutic value in major depression. Altern. Med. Rev. 8, 410-425.
  • Long, S.J., Benton, D., 2013. A double-blind trial of the effect of docosahexaenoic acid and vitamin and mineral supplementation on aggression, impulsivity, and stress. Hum. Psychopharmacol. 28, 238-247.
  • Meyer, B.J., Byrne, M.K., Collier, C., et al., 2015. Baseline omega-3 index correlates with aggressive and attention deficit disorder behaviours in adult prisoners. PLoS ONE 10 (3), e0120220.
  • Parker, G., Gibson, N.A., Brotchie, H., Heruc, G., Rees, A.-M., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D., 2006. Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorder. Am. J. Psychiatry 163, 969-978.
  • Plourde, M., Vohl, M.C., Vandal, M., Couture, P., Lemieux, S., Cunnane, S.C., 2009. Plasma n-3 fatty acid response to an n-3 fatty acid supplement is modulated by apoE 4 but not by the common PPAR-alpha L162V polymorphism in men. Br. J. Nutr. 102, 1121-1124.
  • Promising Practices Network (PPN), 2014. How Programs are Considered (Retrieved from). <http://www.promisingpractices.net/criteria.asp>.
    Started 1997 - stopped updating 2014
  • Raine, A., Portnoy, J., Liu, J., Mahoomed, T., Hibbeln, J., 2015. Reduction in behavior problems with omega-3 supplementation in children aged 8-16 years: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, parallel-group trial. J. Child Psycol. Psychiatry 56, 509-520.
  • Ramirez, J.M., Andreu, J.M., 2006. Aggression, and some related psychological constructs (anger, hostility, and impulsivity). Some comments from a research project. Neurol. Biobehav. Rev. 30, 276-291.
  • Rest, O. van de, Geleijnse, J.M., Kok, F.J., Staveren, W.A. van, Dullemeijer, C., OldeRikkert, M.G.M., Beekman, A.T.F., Groot, C.P.G.Hde, 2008. Effect of fish oil on cognitive performance in older subjects. A randomized, controlled trial. Neurology 71, 430-438.
  • Rosenzweig, S., Fleming, E.E., Clarke, H.J., 1947. 'Revised scoring manual for the Rosenzweig Picture-Frustration Study. J. Psychol 165-208.
  • Sams, J., Mischoulon, D., Schweitzer, I., 2012. Omega-3 for bipolar disorder: meta-analyses of use in mania and bipolar depression. J. Clin. Psychiatry 73, 81-86.
  • Schoenthaler, S.J., Amos, S., Doraz, W., Kelly, M.A., Kelly, M.A., Muedeking, G., Wakefield, J., 1997. The effect of randomized vitamin-mineral supplementation on violent and non-violent anti-social behavior among incarcerated juveniles. J. Nutr. Environ. Med. 7, 343-352.
  • Stevens, L.J., Zentall, S.S., Abate, M.L., Kuczek, T., Burgess, J.R., 1996. Omega-3 fatty acids in boys with behavior, learning, and health problems. Phys. Behav. 59, 915-920.
  • Sublette, M.E., Ellis, S.P., Geant, A.L., Mann, J.J., 2011. Meta-analysis of the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in clinical trials in depression. Clin. Psychiatry. 77 (12), 1577-1584.
  • Vancassel, S., Durand, G., Barthelemy, C., et al., 2001. Plasma fatty acid levels in autistic children. Prostagl. Leukot. Essent. Fat. Acids 65, 1-7.
  • Virkkunen, M.E., Horrobin, D.F., Jenkins, D.K., Manku, M.S., 1987. Plasma phospholipids, essential fatty acids and prostaglandins in alcoholic, habitually violent and impulsive offenders. Biol. Psychiatry 22, 1087.
  • Weidner, G., Connor, S.L., Hollis, J.F., Connor, W.E., 1992. Improvements in hostility and depression in relation to dietary change and cholesterol lowering. Ann. Int. Med. 117, 820-823.
  • Zaalberg, A., Nijman, H., Bulten, E., Stroosma, L., van der Staak, C., 2010. Effects of nutritional supplements on aggression, rule-breaking, and psychopathology among young adult prisoners. Aggr. Behav. 36, 117-126.
  • Zanarini, M.C., Frankenburg, F.R., 2003. Omega-3 fatty acid treatment of women with borderline personality disorder: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Am. J. Psych. 160, 167-178.

Created by admin. Last Modification: Saturday March 3, 2018 13:32:47 GMT-0000 by admin. (Version 6)

Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
9437 Omega-3 aggression.jpg admin 03 Mar, 2018 13:14 16.25 Kb 551
9436 Omega-3 aggression.pdf PDF 2017 admin 03 Mar, 2018 13:14 350.73 Kb 480
See any problem with this page? Report it (WORKS NOV 2021)