Dietary Intakes of Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Impulsivity: Comparing Non-Restricted, Vegetarian, and Vegan Diets

Nutrients. 2024 Mar 18;16(6):875. doi: 10.3390/nu16060875.


Background: Research suggests a link between deficiencies in omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) and impulsivity among psychiatric populations. However, this association is less evident in non-clinical populations. As omega-3 LCPUFAs are predominantly sourced through fish consumption, non-fish dieters may be more vulnerable to higher impulsivity.

Methods: This cross-sectional observational study explored the association between lower intakes of omega-3 LCPUFA food sources and higher self-reported measures of impulsivity among healthy adults consuming non-restricted, vegetarian, and vegan diets.

Results: The results from the validated Food Frequency Questionnaire showed significantly lower estimated omega-3 LCPUFA intakes among vegans and vegetarians when compared with people consuming non-restricted diets. Furthermore, although all groups scored within the normal range of impulsivity measures, vegans scored comparatively higher. Vegans also scored significantly higher in impulsivity control relating to attention than those consuming non-restricted diets.

Conclusions: The significantly lower omega-3 LCPUFA dietary intakes in the vegan diets were associated with higher scores in the second-order attentional aspect of self-reported impulsiveness.

Keywords: Barrat impulsiveness scale; attentional; food frequency questionnaire; omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; trait impulsivity.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Diet, Vegetarian
  • Eating
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Humans
  • Vegetarians


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.