Food and Behaviour Research

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09 September 2014 - MNT - Omega-3 fish oil 'could reduce seizure frequency for epilepsy patients'

Honor Whiteman

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

For details of this research study, please see: 

Approximately 2.3 million adults and around 470,000 children in the US have epilepsy, a lifelong neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Now, a new study claims epilepsy patients could reduce seizure frequency by consuming low doses of omega-3 fish oil every day.

For their study, the researchers enrolled 24 participants with epilepsy who had stopped responding to antiepileptic medication.

Each patient was subject to three different supplementation regimes, each of which lasted for 10 weeks and were divided by a 6-week period. These were:

  • Low-dose fish oil supplementation: three fish oil supplements daily - the equivalent of 1,080 mg of omega-3 - plus three placebo supplements (corn oil)
  • High-dose fish oil supplementation: six fish oil supplements daily - the equivalent of 2,160 mg of omega-3
  • Three placebo supplements twice a day.

The researchers found that the fewest number of seizures occurred - 12 a month - when participants were following the low-dose fish oil regime, compared with 17 a month on the high-dose regime and around 18 a month for the placebo regime. This means the low-dose regime represented a 33.6% reduction in seizures.

Prof. DeGiorgio and his team admit, however, that their study is subject to some limitations. For example, they note that exposure to each of the supplementation regimes was relatively short, therefore it is unknown as to whether low-dose fish oil sustained reduced seizure frequency.

They conclude that a large, randomized controlled trial of the effects of fish oil on epilepsy is warranted in order to confirm their findings.