Fish Oils Benefit Mental Health

Fish oils contain two fatty acids that are important to human health, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5 (n-3)) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C20:6 (n-3)). Neither of these fatty acids are essential, but evidence shows that their addition to the diet provides significant health improvements where an essential fatty acid deficiency is present. One benefit of supplementation with fish oils is in mental function, as the fatty acids in fish oils have particular anti-inflammatory effects that could be beneficial to mood disorders. For example, in one study researchers administered either 2.5 grams  per day of fish oils (containing 2085 mg EPA and 348 mg DHA) or a capsule that contained the amount of EPA and DHA in the typical American diet to a group of medical students. The results of the study showed that the 2.5 gram fish oil capsules caused significant reduction in inflammatory markers and significant reductions in the anxiety levels of the subjects, compared to the placebo.

fish oils mood anxiety depression

Fish oils are beneficial to mental health because they have anti-inflammatory effects. Stress is a cause of mood disorders, and one of the physiological changes that occurs with stress is an increase in inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of fish oils can therefore be very beneficial when it comes to treating mood disorders.

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Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Belury, M. A., Andridge, R., Malarkey, W. B. and Glaser, R. 2011. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behavior and Immunity. 8(25): 1725-1734

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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