In women, omega-3s improved mood, reduced hot flashes and relieved depression as effectively as Prozac, several new studies reveal.
Doctors in a depression study noted that the American diet is out of balance with too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-6s come from vegetable oils such as corn, soy, cottonseed, safflower and sunflower, but omega-3s come mostly from fish. Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, M.D., a psychiatrist at the National Institutes of Health, and perhaps the world’s leading authority on the relationship between dietary fats and mental health, believes that the imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 may contribute to obesity, depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity and violent tendencies, and that bringing omega-3 and omega-6 back into balance may relieve these conditions.
In the study, researchers evaluated the diets of over 3,300 black and white American men and women, average age 35, and followed up for 20 years. While there was no effect for men, women who consumed the most omega-3s—including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and fish—were 30 percent less likely to have chronic depression symptoms compared to women who consumed the least omega-3s.
In another depression study, 120 women, aged 40 to 55, took 1,000 mg of EPA per day or a placebo. After eight weeks, women in the EPA group had significantly fewer symptoms of psychological distress and mild depression compared to placebo.In a related hot flash study, about 90 women from the depression study were experiencing an average of 2.8 hot flashes per day and continued to take 1,000 mg of EPA per day or a placebo. After eight weeks, those in the EPA group had 57 percent fewer hot flashes per day compared to 18 percent fewer for placebo.
In a study of major depression, 48 outpatients with major depressive disorder took either 1,000 mg of EPA, 20 mg of fluoxetine (Prozac) or both per day. After eight weeks, the EPA-only and Prozac-only groups had about 50 percent better symptom scores, while the combination group improved by about 80 percent with no side effects.Reference: