Depression and omega-6/3

I have reblogged several post regarding the benefits of omega-3 on depression. The death of Robin Williams has led me to revisit the topic. Our ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 can have significant effects in our brains. The level of omega-3 in our diet affects the serotonin receptors in the brain and that can have dramatic effects on depression. DHA, the 22 carbon omega-3 is critically important to brain development and health. The best source of DHA is from wild caught Salmon, but we can get lesser amounts from almost all fish and seafood. We cannot get DHA from plants, but we can make it in our bodies from EPA and ALA and we can get ALA from plant sources. The problem is that there are several factors that can limit the conversion of ALA to EPA and then DHA. High insulin levels from a carbohydrates in our diet can inhibit the conversion and in addition, the rate of conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA decreases as we age.

Omega-3 lipids also are important for the health of nerves and the proper functioning of receptors in the brain. There are several articles showing the benefits of omega-3 on Alzheimer’s and autism as well.

High levels of omega-6 are associated with depression and even suicide. The high level of omega-6 in diets and tissues of most people in the US is behind many of our problems including depression and suicide. Omega-6 and omega-3 are competitive. They compete for inclusion in our cell membranes where they are then turned into super hormones. It is difficult to get the ratio of omega-6/3 down to a healthy ratio of 1:1 with the processed foods that are available to us, especially fast foods and snacks.

If you want to find my past articles on brain health, click on “brain health” in the categories list. There is one post there that has a list of several studies related to depression and suicide.

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