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Can Omega-3's Oils Reduce Symptoms of Depression?

Can Omega-3's Oils Reduce Symptoms of Depression?


Researchers have been examining the role omega-3 oils might play in treating depression. Omega-3 oils are found in fish, and the best known omega-3's are EPA and DHA. These oils have been shown to be in benefit in many other health conditions–heart disease, arthritis, etc. The following two studies provide additional support to their value in treating depression.

The first was a small pilot study, without placebo, that included 28 adults with major depression who had not responded to medication or psychotherapy. Participants took 260 mg or 520 mg of the omega-3 DHA per day. DHA usually occurs, in supplements, along with EPA but supplements that contain predominantly DHA are now available.

After eight weeks, 54 percent overall saw at least a 50 percent reduction in depression symptom scores, and 45 percent were in clinical remission, regardless of the dose of DHA.

Discussing the findings, doctors said the study, although small, is important because the clinical benefit was large, and because it focused on the omega-3, DHA, while most other depression studies using omega-3s have focused on the omega-3 EPA.

Reference: Nutritional Neuroscience; 2018, Vol. 21, No. 3, 224-8

In another study, doctors wanted to know if adding fish oil supplements to a Mediterranean-style diet would reduce depression symptoms. 

In this study, 152 adults self-reporting depression attended a Mediterranean cooking class every two weeks for three months. Half the group also received a food basket every two weeks with healthy foods, and took 450 mg of DHA plus 100 mg of EPA, twice per day, for six months.

After three months, those in the healthy food basket plus DHA with EPA group saw a 45 percent improvement in depression symptom scores, including anxiety and stress, compared to 26.8 percent for the group attending cooking classes with no dietary changes or omega-3 supplements.

Doctors said this is one of the first trials to show healthy dietary changes plus fish oil supplements can improve mental health in those with depression.

Reference: Nutritional Neuroscience; 2018, Vol. 21, No. 3, 224-8

The Mediterranean diet involves eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, eating healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil, and reducing intake of sald and red meat.

Product Recommendations:

DHA  Formula500 mg. (from fish oil) Nordic Naturals
Product Number: 42377, 60 Capsules

DHA 500 mg. (from Calamari) Doctor’s Best
Product Number: 60272, 60 Capsules

DHA 250 mg. (from Algae, vegetarian) Flora
Product Number: 60186, 60 Capsules