The following 3 abstracts of journal articles are just a few of the articles that show how increasing our intake of omega-3 fatty acids can improve brain health, mood, and even suicidal tendencies. It may be hard to believe that fat (omega-3 or omega-6) can effect so many different aspects of our health, but when you realize that it is part of the cell membrane of every cell in our body and affects the function and permeability of those cells it is understandable that it affects the way our cells send and receive chemical signals. Then add to that the fact that omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids are the precursors to a variety of super hormones and you really begin to understand why it is so important to maintain the proper intake and balance of these important fats.
Associations between cod liver oil use and symptoms of depression: the Hordaland Health Study.
BACKGROUND: Clinical trials suggest that omega-3 fatty acids improve the outcome of depression. This study aimed to evaluate the association between intake of cod liver oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and high levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety in the general population. METHODS: We used data from the “The Hordaland Health Study ‘97-’99” (HUSK), a population based cross-sectional health survey from Norway including 21,835 subjects aged 40-49 and 70-74 years. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were measured by The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). We used logistic regression to study associations. RESULTS: Among the participants, 8.9% used cod liver oil daily. A total of 3.6% had high levels of depressive symptoms. The prevalence of such depressive symptoms among the subjects who used cod liver oil daily was 2.5%, as compared to 3.8% in the rest of the population. The users of cod liver oil were significantly less likely to have depressive symptoms than non-users after adjusting for multiple possible confounding factors (odds ratio=0.71, 95% confidence interval 0.52 to 0.97). These factors included age, gender, smoking habits, coffee consumption, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and education. In addition, we found that the prevalence of high levels of depressive symptoms decreased with increasing duration (0-12 months) of cod liver oil use (multivariate adjusted test for trend, P=0.04). We were only able to study this latter association in a subset of the population aged 40-46 years. LIMITATIONS: Data are cross sectional. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that regular use of cod liver oil is negatively associated with high levels of depressive symptoms in the general population.
J Affect Disord. 2007 Aug;101(1-3):245-9
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in patients with recurrent self-harm. Single-centre double-blind randomised controlled trial.
BACKGROUND: Trials have demonstrated benefits of long-chain omega-3 essential fatty acid (n-3 EFA) supplementation in a variety of psychiatric disorders. AIMS: To assess the efficacy of n-3 EFAs in improving psychological well-being in patients with recurrent self-harm. METHOD: Patients (n=49) presenting after an act of repeated self-harm were randomised to receive 1.2 g eicosapentaenoic acid plus 0.9 g decosahexaenoic acid (n=22) or placebo (n=27) for 12 weeks in addition to standard psychiatric care. Six psychological domains were measured at baseline and end point. RESULTS: At 12 weeks, the n-3 EFA group had significantly greater improvements in scores for depression, suicidality and daily stresses. Scores for impulsivity, aggression and hostility did not differ. CONCLUSIONS: Supplementation achieved substantial reductions in surrogate markers of suicidal behaviour and improvements in well-being. Larger studies are warranted to determine if insufficient dietary intake of n-3 EFAs is a reversible risk factor for self-harm.
Br J Psychiatry. 2007 Feb;190:118-22
Relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and plasma neuroactive steroids in alcoholism, depression and controls.
Deficiency in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been associated with increased corticotropin releasing hormone and may contribute to hypothalamic pituitary axis (HPA) hyperactivity. Elevated levels of the neuroactive steroids, allopregnanolone (3alpha,5alpha-THP) and 3alpha,5alpha-tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC) appear to counter-regulate HPA hyperactivity. Plasma essential fatty acids and neurosteroids were assessed among 18 male healthy controls and among 34 male psychiatric patients with DSM-III alcoholism, depression, or both. Among all subjects, lower plasma DHA was correlated with higher plasma THDOC (r = -0.3, P < 0.05) and dihydroprogesterone (DHP) (r = -0.52, P < 0.05). Among psychiatric patients lower DHA was correlated with higher DHP (r = -0.60, P < 0.01), and among healthy controls lower plasma DHA was correlated with higher THDOC (r = -0.83, P < 0.01) and higher isopregnanolone (3beta,5alpha-THP) (r = -0.55, P < 0.05). In this pilot observational study, lower long-chain omega-3 essential fatty acid status was associated with higher neuroactive steroid concentrations, possibly indicating increased feedback inhibition of the HPA axis.
Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2006 Oct-Nov;75(4-5):309-14