Fish Oil Omega-3 fatty acids fend off depression especially in women

February 13, 2009

Higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids and oily fish may reduce the number of occasions that women suffer depressive symptoms by about 30 per cent, says a new study. Women with the highest intake of oily fish reduced their number of depressive moments by 25 %, while a high intake of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA reduced this number by 29%, according to researchers from Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of California, San Francisco. “Our results are consistent with […] other epidemiologic studies that have examined the association of fish intake or dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids with depressive disorders or mental disorders,” wrote the researchers. “In addition, several small, randomized, double-blind trials found that adjunctive treatment with omega-3 PUFAs improved depression.”  

The researchers analysed dietary intakes of fish and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) amongst 3,317 African-American and Caucasian men and women. The average age of the participants at the start of the study was 35. Symptoms of depression were measured using the 20-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. They report that, for the population as a whole, EPA, DHA, and EPA plus DHA were associated with reduced risk of depressive symptoms at the ten-year stage. The effect was more pronounced in women, they note. The study is published online ahead of print in the February 4th, 2009 issue of the journal Nutrition.