Omega-3 Fatty Acids To Treat Mood Disorders?

Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids are required for correct brain function. A deficiency of the omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha linolenic acid (ALA, C18:3 (n-3) and its metabolites eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5 (n-3)) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C20:6 (n-3)), has been linked to mood disorders in humans. Animal models suggest that changes to neurochemistry following deficits in omega-3 fatty acids can cause changes to behaviour that are similar to the generalised anxiety disorder and depressive disorders in humans. One explanation for the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids is that they increase membrane fluidity and this may have benefits for improving the efficiency of neurotransmitter modulation in the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids also modulate inflammation. As inflammation is associated with mood disorders, the attenuation of brain levels of inflammatory cytokines with omega-3 fatty acids supplementation may be another primary mechanism of action.

omega-3 fatty acids mood anxiety depression

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids are fish oils and green leafy vegetables. Fish oils contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, and green leafy vegetables contain the omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid.

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Parker, G., Gibson, N. A., Brotchie, H., Heruc, G., Rees, A. M. and Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. 2006. Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry. 163(6): 969-978

About Robert Barrington

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