Depression Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help

If you’re one of the , new research gives more credibility to the idea that omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish, fish oil supplements, flaxseeds and walnuts) may alleviate some of your depression-related symptoms.

A Canadian study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry is the largest double-blind, randomized control trial ever conducted on depression and Omega-3 fatty acids.  Many studies have previously shown promising outcomes, but were not conclusive because they studied so few participants.  This study however, sampled over 400 individuals with major depression and randomly assigned them to fish oil supplements containing about 1 gram (1,050mg) of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 150mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or a placebo.  The researchers found that the men and women who had depression without an anxiety disorder showed a statistically significant benefit from the fish oil supplements compared to patients who received the placebo.

The researchers caution that individuals with depression and anxiety may be more bothered by the fishy aftertaste reported by many participants who took the fish oil supplements.  They also reported that using fish oil as a complement to antidepressant medications showed no clear benefits in this particular study. Furthermore, fish oil is likely not a suitable substitute for prescription medications.

There is also some research showing that proper intake of these essential fats may help ward off postpartum depression if monitored during pregnancy.  Not to mention the fatty acid supplementation for growth and development, preventing inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and lowering cardiovascular risk factors.  Specifically, that taking 1-2 fish oil capsules daily or consuming two servings of low-mercury fish, like sockeye salmon, herring, or sardines, per week, should do the trick.  Truth be told, experts are still waiting for more conclusive evidence, but based on the existing research, most individuals can safely consume 1 gram of EPA per day–the effective dose used in this study– without serious adverse effects.  Find more on fish oil supplementation here and ask your physician before starting a fish oil regimen.

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