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Omega-3s May Help with Depression

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Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in oily, cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout and herring, may help alleviate depression, a new study suggests. But researchers cautioned that the anti-depressive effect was only seen when a particular type of fatty acid called DHA is used in the right ratio with another fatty acid known as EPA.

Some fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, and herring, as well as some nuts, soybeans and flax seed do contain both DHA and EPA nutrients.

The study analyzed results of several controlled clinical trials on the use of omega-3s to treat people diagnosed with depression. Researchers found that when DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) was combined with a high dose of EPA (eicosapentenoic acid), depressive symptoms were indeed improved. As reported by Jenifer Goodwin, writing for HealthDay.com, experts cautioned that depressed individuals should not rely on fish or fish oil supplements alone to treat depression.

Funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the study was presented last month at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology meeting in Miami.

Leaders of the study said the consistent finding was that omega-3s can improve the mood of those who have symptoms of depression. But they stressed that people suffering from such symptoms should be evaluated by their mental health professional to determine the proper course of therapy.

The DHA/EPA combo was not found to elevate the mood of study participants who were not depressed.

But increasing the amount of fish in one’s diet certainly can’t hurt, right? Well, you do have to watch out for certain fish that contain high levels of mercury. There’s always a caveat.

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