Omega-3s beat depression

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
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Tags: omega-3s, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) You're probably already aware of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular health, but did you know that omega-3s are also extremely beneficial for moods and cognitive function? In fact, there's a tremendous amount of good evidence demonstrating that omega-3 fatty acids can help enhance brain function and prevent depression.

Below, we present a collection of supporting quotes and testimonials from authors and researchers in the natural health field. You'll find more of these quotes on NaturalPedia, the free online encyclopedia of natural health knowledge:

Omega-3s and depression

Can eating more omega-3s really boost our moods? The answer, based on the available scientific and clinical evidence, seems to be a cautious yes. There are four lines of evidence supporting the role of omega-3 essential fatty acids in depression. First, there are compelling population studies linking the eating of large amounts of fish (omega-3 fatty acids) to low rates of major depression. The second line of evidence includes neurochemical studies in animals (looking at brain chemistry).
- The Omega-3 Connection: The Groundbreaking Anti-depression Diet and Brain Program by Andrew L. Stoll

The omega-3 fatty acids are important not just for health; they're important for happiness, too. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in high concentrations in fatty, carnivorous fish such as herring, mackerel, tuna, and salmon. (Smaller amounts are found in other fish.) In countries where more fish is consumed, there is a lower rate of depression. Omega-3 fish oils can elevate your mood. Besides their use for depression, studies have shown that fish oil is helpful for bipolar disorder, as well.
- Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutrition by Hyla Cass, M.D.

Jonathan Zeuss, who has no doubt that depression is "to a very large degree, a nutritionally caused disease," touts the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. "They are absolutely crucial," he says. "There is a huge amount of evidence now linking omega-3 deficiency and depression. Around a quarter of the dry weight of our brains is made up of omega-3s and if you are deficient in them, the cells in your brain malfunction and you are much more likely to become depressed." Omega-3s are known as essential fatty acids.
- The Food-Mood Connection: Nutrition-based and Environmental Approaches to Mental Health and Physical Wellbeing by Gary Null and Amy McDonald

Dietary advice to lower cholesterol levels tends to increase the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 and decreases the level of the essential omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexanoic acid. Population-based studies in various countries and the United States have indicated that decreased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids correlates with increased rates of depression. There is a consistent association between depression and coronary artery disease. Food Allergies Depression and fatigue have been linked with food allergies for over sixty-five years.
- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition by Michael T. Murray, N.D., Joseph E. Pizzorno, N.D.

Donald Rudin and other authorities believe a deficiency of the Omega-3 fat is a main cause of depression and other mental disorders. Omega-3 fats work to keep us mentally and emotionally healthy and strong in three ways: 1. Omega-3 fats act as precursors for the body's production of key prostaglandins. 2. Omega-3 fats provide the substrate for B vitamins and co-enzymes to produce compounds that regulate many vital functions. 3. Omega-3 fats provide energy and nourishment to our nerve and brain cells.
- The Facts about Fats: A Consumer's Guide to Good Oils by John Finnegan

The implications of omega-3 deficiency on the brain are profound and span the entire human life cycle. Beginning in pregnancy, premature birth and its potential neurologic complications may result from omega-3 deficiency. Babies who are bottle-fed or born from omega-3-deficient mothers will lack the omega-3 fatty acids necessary for optimal cognitive and visual development. Children deprived of omega-3s may have less ability to pay attention and control impulsive behavior and may be at higher risk for depression.
- The Omega-3 Connection: The Groundbreaking Anti-depression Diet and Brain Program by Andrew L. Stoll

But the importance of omega-3s for the brain hardly stops after infancy. Too little omega-3s have been linked to both attention deficit disorder (ADD) and depression. Research at Harvard has shown significant improvement in bipolar depression with large doses of omega-3supplements. And studies have strongly suggested that increased fish oil intake could reduce anger and hostility in alcoholics, troubled teenagers, and violence-prone prisoners. "Clearly omega-3 fatty acids are essential to good brain health," says my friend Daniel Amen, M.D.
- The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What Treatments Work and Why by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

In his excellent book The Omega-3 Connection, Harvard Medical School professor Andrew Stoller, M.D., answers his own question, "Can eating more omega-3s really boost our mood?" with the statement: "The answer, based on the available scientific and clinical evidence, seems to be a cautious yes." There are compelling population studies linking the consumption of large amounts of fish (omega-3 fatty acids) to low rates of depression. Controlled clinical trials of omega-3s in depression are under way at any number of research centers.
- The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

Depressed people have been reported to have lower omega-3 fatty acid levels (e.g., DHA) than people who are not depressed. Low levels of the other omega-3 fatty acid from fish, EPA, have correlated with increased severity of depression. In a double-blind trial, people with manic depression were given a very high intake of supplemental omega-3 fatty acids (enough fish oil to contain 9.6 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day) for four months.
- The Natural Pharmacy: Complete A-Z Reference to Natural Treatments for Common Health Conditions by Alan R. Gaby, M.D., Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., Forrest Batz, Pharm.D. Rick Chester, RPh., N.D., DipLAc. George Constantine, R.Ph., Ph.D. Linnea D. Thompson, Pharm.D., N.D.

As Omega-3 fatty acid levels fall, rates of depression increase. In countries where fish is consumed frequently, Omega-3 fatty acid levels are high and rates of depression are low, even in areas of the world that don't get much sunlight. Note these "fat facts" as they relate to the brain: Depression has been linked to low levels of a fatty acid called phos-phatidylserine. A number of studies have made the correlation between depression and low levels of cholesterol.
- The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children by Carol Simontacchi

The high prevalence of depression in patients with coronary artery disease, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, and postpartum depression might be linked by low concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in nerve membranes," explains Dr. Hibbeln. "We're suggesting that deficient levels of the omega-3s in the nervous system may increase the vulnerability to depression, just as a deficient level in the circulation may increase vulnerability to heart disease." It's also possible that fat affects mood by regulating serotonin.
- Food & Mood: The Complete Guide to Eating Well and Feeling Your Best, Second Edition by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.

According to an article in Preventative Medicine, "Growing evidence likewise suggests a role for omega-3 fatty acids in helping to relieve disabling depression. Fatty acids may provide relief for people of all ages and genders who are afflicted by depression" (2006 January, pp. 4-13). In fact, one specific study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry (June 1, 2006, pp. 1098-1100), reported that "children with depression benefit from omega-3supplementation."
- Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, And Stimulants - Dangerous Drugs on Trial by Dr David W Tanton, Ph.D.

This relative deficiency of omega-3 fats has potentially serious implications. Also, the consumption of too much omega-6 fat leads to high levels of arachidonic acid (AA). Higher levels of arachidonic acid can promote inflammation. When we have insufficient omega-3 fat, we do not produce enough DHA, a long-chain omega-3 fat with anti-inflammatory effects. High levels of arachidonic acid and low levels of omega-3 fats can be a contributory cause of heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases, skin diseases, depression, and possibly increased cancer incidence.
- Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

In fact, there is a sixty-fold difference in depression rates across countries from the highest (Japan and Taiwan) to the lowest (North America, Europe, and New Zealand) omega-3 fat consumption. Even postpartum depression decreases as women increase their consumption of fish. Many people also report a drop in mood when they switch too quickly to a low-fat diet. In addition, serious depression is seen in up to 70 percent of alcoholics. Studies on animals demonstrate that long-term alcohol consumption depletes omega-3 fatty acids in nerve tissue, but this is reversed after prolonged abstinence.
- Food & Mood: The Complete Guide to Eating Well and Feeling Your Best, Second Edition by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.

A low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to or worsen asthma symptoms, most likely due to increased inflammation. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids has been shown to be low in asthma sufferers. Supplements may be useful in relieving symptoms in some asthmatics, although not all studies have shown beneficial effects. Recent research suggests that omega-3 fatty acid deficiency may also be linked to depression and aggression.
- The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements and Herbs by Nicola Reavley

Omega-3 fatty acids, powerful weapons in the fight against heart disease, may also help you win the battle against depression. Research shows that in countries where people eat a lot of fish, a good source of omega-3s, the incidence of depression is low. In one study, Japanese students who took a daily fish oil supplement for three months were less hostile and aggressive than their peers. Some experts warn that there are too many other cultural differences to be absolutely sure fish are helping to ward off depression. In the meantime, eating more fish can't hurt.
- Natural Cures and Gentle Medicines: That Work Better Than Dangerous Drugs or Risky Surgery by Frank K. Wood

One hundred grams of fresh purslane leaves (about 1 cup) can contain up to 300 to 400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid, the same omega-3 found in flaxseed. Purslane also contains small amounts of the longer-chain omega-3s (DHA and EPA), which are rarely found in anything but fish and fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy fats that have been found beneficial in hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and depression. The more omega-3s we eat, the better!
- The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.

Scientists don't know exactly how omega-3's protect against depression, but they do know that the fats are important to health of neurons, or brain cells. To get sufficient omega-3's to battle depression, Dr. Zuess recommends taking approximately 10 grams a day of DHA and EPA, which usually amounts to about 30 fish-oil capsules daily. Take them in divided doses with meals. This remedy is safe for long-term use.
- Alternative Cures: The Most Effective Natural Home Remedies for 160 Health Problems by Bill Gottlieb

Omega-3 fatty acids also aid in the prevention of emotional disorders, and a deficiency can contribute to severe depression. The brain is the top source of fatty acids in the body, and it requires the omega-3s for optimal functioning. Add one or two tablespoons of flaxseed oil to green leafy vegetable salads to get the full complement of daily omega-3 fatty acids.
- Food Swings: Make the Life-Changing Connection Between the Foods You Eat and Your Emotional Health and Well-Being by Barnet Meltzer, M.D.

Stoll suggests the omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil may slow down neurons in your brain, much like the drug Lithium, which is used to treat manic depression. Another research group from England noticed depressed people had less omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells than healthy people. The more severe the depression, the less omega-3. There is even evidence that EPA can help treat people with schizophrenia, a serious mental illness that can cause delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized behavior.
- Eat and Heal (Foods That Can Prevent or Cure Many Common Ailments) by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing

The part of the brain that Omega-3 effects is the learning ability, anxiety/ depression, and auditory and visual perception. The Omega-3 fats also aid in balancing the autoimmune system, and there seem to be a growing number of children with allergies, colic, and skin problems. There are also indications that Omega-3 fats play an ongoing role in brain function, healthy immune system function, and general growth throughout childhood and adolescence. One study revealed that Omega-3supplementation induced catch-up growth in a deficient, underdeveloped seven-year-old.
- The Facts about Fats: A Consumer's Guide to Good Oils by John Finnegan

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About the author: Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

In addition to being the co-star of the popular GAIAM TV series called Secrets to Health, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

In 2013, Adams created the Natural News Forensic Food Laboratory, a research lab that analyzes common foods and supplements, reporting the results to the public. He is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released ten popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at

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