You know omega 3s have been getting a lot of negative press lately. Recent reviews have concluded that omega 3s don’t help to lower the risk of heart disease.
But according to Dr. David Mischoulon, a psychiatrist and professor from Mass General and Harvard, omega 3s do seem to help people with depression.
He states that omega-3s can easily travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory effects that may help relieve depression.
More than 30 clinical trials have tested omega-3s in people with depression. Most of the studies used the omega 3s EPA and DHA along with prescription antidepressants with limited or no benefit. Fewer studies looked at omega-3 therapy alone. The trials used EPA alone or a combination of EPA plus DHA, at doses from half a gram to 1 gram per day up to 6 to 10 grams per day; most studies use 1-2grams per day. 1 gram per day would be like eating three salmon meals per week.
Meta-analyses of those trials suggest that omega-3s are effective, but the results aren’t unanimous because of variability between the studies. Preparations with at least 60% EPA compared to DHA seem to be the most effective. DHA is thought to be less effective as an antidepressant, but it may help prevent suicide. Recent research done at Massachusetts General Hospital and Emory University indicates that depressed people who are overweight with elevated inflammatory markers might be especially good candidates for EPA treatment.
There’s a large study underway at Harvard right now that’s looking at whether omega-3 pills alone or with vitamin D can prevent depression in healthy older adults. For his patients, Dr. Mischoulon recommends 1 to 2 g/day of an EPA+DHA combination, with at least 60% EPA, for major depression.
This is Joan Trimble wishing you wellness.