Research: SAWAZAKI and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 53


SAWAZAKI and colleagues, First Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Japan previously reported that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) prevented aggression from increasing during time of mental stress. The authors further studied whether DHA intake modified stress response in medical students.



14 medical students, randomly assigned, double-blind, to either control or DHA group, participated in the current study. Students in the control group (4 males and 3 females) took 10 control capsules/d, each capsule with 280 mg of mixed plant oil; the DHA group (4 males and 3 females) took 10 DHA capsules/d containing 1.5 g DHA for a period of 9 weeks, during which time subjects underwent more than 20 stressful final exams. At the outset and end of the study, plasma catecholamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine) and cortisol were measured; a 75 g oGTT was also performed.


There were intra- or intergroup differences in plasma glucose concentrations. NE concentrations were significantly diminished following DHA administration. The other catecholamines and cortisol did not change significantly. Plasma ratios of epinephrine to NE increased in each DHA subject and intergroup differences were significant.


The effects of DHA may be applied to people under long-lasting psychological stress to prevent stress-related diseases.


Sawazaki S et al. The effect of docosahexaenoic acid on plasma catecholamine concentrations and glucose tolerance during long-lasting psychological stress: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology 45(5): 655-65. Oct 1999.

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