A daily fish oil capsule could stave off mental illness in people at high-risk of psychosis, a study has shown.
The study found that a course of fish oil capsules - rich in omega-3 fatty acids - cut the risk of psychosis by 27.5%.
It is thought that the omega-3 affects the structure of cell membranes in the brain and improves connections between nerve cells. The study was led by Paul Amminger, from the Medical University of Vienna.
The research - published in in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry - tested the treatment of 81 people at very high risk of experiencing psychotic disorders characterised by delusions, hallucinations and confused thoughts.
The risk was defined by patients having mild psychotic symptoms, a short-lived “transient” episode of psychosis, or a family history of psychotic disorders.
Those taking the supplement were more than a quarter less likely to progress to serious psychosis than those who were not.
The study authors said: “The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent or at least delay the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotics for the prodromal (early symptomatic) phase.”