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Treat depression with omega-3 fatty acids

Monday, December 13, 2010 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: omega-3s, depression, health news

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(NaturalNews) Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have confirmed that omega-3 fatty acids exhibit powerful antidepressant and brain boosting benefits that have not received the high level of attention they deserve. The team, led by Dr. John M. Davis, discovered that eicosapentenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) -- two types of omega-3 fatty acids recognized for their powerful nutritional benefits -- are effective enough at improving mood that they may potentially eliminate the need for many people to take antidepressant drugs.

The researchers analyzed 15 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies about omega-3s and found that taking either EPA alone or EPA together with DHA helps to alleviate depression symptoms And since DHA alone did not exhibit antidepressant benefits, the team has identified EPA as the primary active compound in improving mental health.

"Our analysis clarifies the precise type of omega-3 fatty acid that is effective for people with depression and explains why previous findings have been contradictory," explained Davis. "The EPA predominant formulation is necessary for the therapeutic action to occur."

People who are deficient in omega-3s are more likely to experience depression than people have consume adequate amounts. Davis and his team found in a previous study that pregnant women deficient in omega-3s are more prone to depression during and after pregnancy than those who get enough of it.

"There is a huge amount of evidence now linking omega-3 deficiency and depression," explain Gary Null and Amy McDonald in their book The Food-Mood Connection: Nutrition-based and Environmental Approaches to Mental Health and Physical Wellbeing. "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."

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