12-07-2014 by 

Research has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy heart, and there is encouraging evidence that this essential fatty acid may provide benefits in treatment of diseases such as cancer and certain autoimmune diseases. [2]

When it comes to Omega-3 fatty acids, the good news just keeps on coming. Recent studies indicate that Omega-3 fatty acids have great potential for treatment for depression and other mood disorders, including bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia.


Omega-3 and Mood

There is growing evidence that lack of sufficient Omega-3 fatty acids affect cognition and other brain functions. Scientists aren’t exactly sure how they help regulate mood, but it’s a given that the membranes and connective tissues of many brain cells are rich in Omega-3. Many researchers think the substances benefit mood by releasing key hormones that moderate emotion, anxiety, attention, impulsive behavior, angry feelings and aggression. [5]

Omega-3 fatty acids may be a safer alternative for people who haven’t succeeded with medications, or for those who experience unpleasant side effects. However, they shouldn’t be considered a simple solution or a home remedy for people with serious mood disorders. If you are currently taking medications, don’t stop without discussing the matter with your health care provider.

Omega-3 and Diet

Omega-3 fatty acid in food consists of two main types. The first, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found primarily in walnuts, pumpkin seeds and certain oils, including canola, soybean and flaxseed. Some green vegetables such as kale Brussels sprouts and spinach also contain small amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.

The second type of Omega-3 fatty acid consists of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. These hard-to-pronounce substances, commonly known simply as DHA and EPA, are found in certain types of fatty fish, including herring, salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.

Both types of Omega-3 acids are beneficial, but the typical American diet doesn’t include enough of either, mostly because Americans have been taught to believe that all fats are bad.

2-3 Servings of Fish (or Walnuts) Per Week

Many experts believe that fish is the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids and that two or three servings per week provide the most benefits. If you’re a vegetarian or you simply don’t like fish, incorporate plenty of healthy oils and walnuts into your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids from foods are best because you also get other good things like vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, fish oil capsules or other Omega-3 supplements are the next best thing. Look for high-quality supplements and take them with the largest meal of the day. An enteric, or coated supplement may help prevent unpleasant fishy burps.

Mood Keywords: health, fatigue, weight
1. Black Dog Institute. “Omega-3 and Mood Disorders.” http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/Omega-3andmooddisorders.pdf
2. Harrar, S. Today’s Dietician, January, 2012. “Omega-3 Acids and Mood Disorders. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/011012p22.shtml
3. Lawson, W. Psychology Today. “Omega-3s for Boosting Mood.” http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200301/omega-3s-boosting-mood
4. UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. “Eat Right, Drink Well, Stress Less: Stress-Reducing Foods, Herbal Supplements and Teas.” http://exploreim.ucla.edu/wellness/eat-right-drink-well-stress-less-stress-reducing-foods-herbal-supplements-and-teas/
5. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. “Brain Foods: The Effects of Nutrients on Brain Function.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/

Image Credit: Jacek Chabraszewski © 123RF.com (used under license)

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