A new Japanese study has found a significant correlation between depression symptoms and low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the bloodstream. The study results also underscore the need to reduce inflammation in order to avoid health issues, such as depression.
Depression affects about 6.7 percent of adults in the United States and is even higher in persons over the age of 40. The prescription drugs so often prescribed to treat depression tend only to be partially effective. These drugs are also linked with a wide range of unwanted side effects such as nausea, constipation, sexual dysfunction, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts.
Omega-3 helps to reduce inflammation – one of the precursors to depression
The Japanese study results show a strong connection between depression and chronic inflammation in the body. Because of this, key supplements with proven anti-inflammatory effects such as omega-3s are crucial in reducing the symptoms of depression.
The study evaluated over 2,100 persons age 40 or older who were evaluated using a standard 20 question test for depression. Their blood then was tested for levels of different fatty acid types. The results showed that the persons who had the lowest omega-3 levels tended to have the highest risk of depression. Conversely, higher levels of omega-3s corresponded with a lowered risk of depressive symptoms by as much as 43 percent.
The list of benefits of omega-3 keeps growing
The subjects were tested further based on specific types of fatty acids, namely DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Both compounds were correlated with combating depression, with high levels of DHA reducing the risk of depression by 42 percent, and high EPA levels lowering risk by 36 percent.
The study results have profound implications. Inflammation is more prevalent in everyone after age 40, which means that in addition to other medical conditions, their mental health could be at risk. However, taking a dietary supplement rich in omega-3s including DHA and EPA could provide protection and relief. This is particularly important for persons who have a history of depression.
Omega-3s have a multitude of other health effects as well, including benefits to metabolic and cardiovascular health. They reduce the risk of asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, and many other diseases that are associated with aging.
Additional studies support the benefits of omega-3 – taken daily
A number of other studies show the protective effect and benefits of omega-3 and fish oil supplementation for protection against depression. As a side note, the antidepressant drug citalopram was found to be more effective when patients took an omega-3 supplement. So, even if you feel compelled to take prescription medication – don’t ignore the value of omega-3 supplements.
By the way, the daily dose of omega-3 was two 1,000 mg capsules – twice daily – for a total of 4,000 mg per day.
Another study found persons in treatment for hepatitis C had significantly reduced depressive episodes when they took an EPA supplement daily. In addition, omega-3s have also been shown to reduce inflammation and depression in patients being treated for kidney issues.
Remember, the value of taking a daily omega-3 supplement is clear, especially after the age of 40. Fight the effects of aging and reduce your risk of depression by ensuring you get enough omega-3s.