Omega-3s may lessen depressive symptoms

Doctors said omega-3s may help treat depression, since those with depressive symptoms also typically have low levels of omega-3. Researchers also said that older adults often suffer from depression without being diagnosed.

In one study, 46 depressed women, aged 66 to 95, took 1,666 mg of EPA plus 833 mg of DHA per day, or a placebo. After eight weeks, compared to placebo, women taking the omega-3s had much milder depressive symptoms, and higher levels of circulating omega-3s, which had been very low at the start of the study in both groups.

Doctors also measured omega-6, an essential but pro-inflammatory fatty acid abundant in the American diet. When omega-3 levels are closer to omega-6 levels, chronic inflammation is lower, and chances of cardiovascular disease are also less, doctors said.

After two months, doctors found omega-3 levels had increased compared to omega-6 levels. In discussing their findings, doctors said, “Our data clearly demonstrate that elderly depression is characterized by very low levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, in particular, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in red blood cell membranes, compared to healthy subjects,” and went on to say the findings confirm the positive effects of increasing omega-3s in the diet for treating depression in older adults. 

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