RATIONALE: Omega-3 fatty acids are known to play a role in nervous system activity, cognitive development, memory-related learning, neuroplasticity of nerve membranes, synaptogenesis and synaptic transmission. The brain is considered abnormally sensitive to oxidative damage, and aging is considered one of the most significant risk factors for degenerative neurological disorders. Recently, clinical trials of several neurodegenerative diseases have increasingly targeted the evaluation of the effectiveness of various antioxidants.

OBJECTIVES: The effects of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants on the anatomic and functional central nervous system development and their possible therapeutical use in some neurological and psychiatric pathologies are evaluated.

RESULTS: A number of critical trials have confirmed the benefits of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids not only in several psychiatric conditions, but also in inflammatory and autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. Many evidences indicate that antioxidants are also essential in maintaining a correct neurophysiology.

CONCLUSIONS: Omega-3 fatty acids could be useful in the prevention of different pathologies, such as cardiovascular, psychiatric, neurological, dermatological and rheumatological disorders. A number of studies suggest that antioxidants can prevent the oxidation of various macromolecules such as DNA, proteins, and lipids. The ideal use of antioxidants should be a prophylactic and continue treatment before aging.