King's College London

Research portal

Nutrition, Neurodevelopment And Mental Health

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

There is increasing awareness for the potential effects of nutrition on mental health. Specifically, researchers are interested in the benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) and vitamin D on brain development and psychological well-being. The main objective of this thesis is to examine evidence for the relationship between nutritional intake, neurodevelopment, psychotic and depressive symptoms. This thesis consists of a series of studies designed to test several hypotheses. A review and meta-analysis tested the hypothesis that maternal fish oil intake/omega 3 supplementation during pregnancy is associated with better cognitive performance in offspring. Next, we used data from the Swedish Women's Lifestyle and Health Study, to test the hypothesis that low UV exposure is associated with more positive psychotic symptoms and with more severe depressive symptoms. For the purpose of this study we use UV exposure data as a primary index for vitamin D. Firstly, the results of meta-analysis showed that for the measure of overall cognitive ability the standardised difference in means (SMD) was estimated to 0.10 (95% CI, -0.01 to 0.20; p=0.07) and for memory functions the SMD was 0.21 (95% CI, 0.01 to 0.41; p=0.04). The observational studies showed better overall cognitive ability with pooled OR of 1.92 (95% CI, 1.61 to 2.30; p<0.001) and for the domain of language and verbal skills the OR was 1.93 (95% CI, 1.37 to 2.73; p<0.001) among children of mothers consuming 2 to 3 fish servings per week during pregnancy. Maternal intake of fish oil during pregnancy is associated with improved cognitive abilities in the offspring. Secondly, the association between sun exposure and psychotic experiences was evaluated by quantile regression models. 34 279 women were included in the analysis. Women who reported no sunbathing holidays and two or more weeks of sunbathing holidays scored higher on the Community Assessment of Psychic Experience (CAPE) scale than women exposed to one week of sunbathing holidays across the entire distribution, when adjusting for age and education. Similarly, compared with women who reported a history of a single sunburn, the women with none or two or more sunburns showed higher scores on the CAPE scale with more women in the right part of the distribution. Thirdly, women who reported a history of two or more sunburns showed positive association with depressive symptoms, compared to history of a single sunburn, when adjusting for age and education. The findings suggest that in a population based cohort of middle aged women, both low and high sun exposure is associated with increased level of positive psychotic experiences and high sun exposure is associated with an occurrence of depressive symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date2016


Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454