Fish Oil Supplements Good For Heart, Maybe Not For Depression

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Fish Oil for Depression?

Much has been written about the benefits of Fish Oil supplementation. “There’s oodles of evidence linking fish oil to heart health. Studies have shown Omega-3s can help lower triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), improve heart rhythm problems, and protect against a range of cardiovascular diseases.”1

“Doctors like recommending fish oil because it comes with few risks. And many patients like taking the supplement. They think of it as a medicine — without dangerous side effects. “A lot of physicians have jumped on the bandwagon,” says Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic.” 2
There is the thought however that maybe Fish Oil (Omega-3) might be effective as an anti-depressant, postpartum in particular. The thought arose when looking at countries where fish consumption is high and depression is low, maybe the cause is the fish oil. That prompted elevating the level of research to establish whether there is substance behind that thought. It turns out the studies showed a mixture of yeses and noes.

The general feeling was, there needed to be more studies to determine conclusively whether or not it helped with depression. However, “I think the recommendations should remain the same” says Emily Oken of Harvard Medical School. She points out that while fish oil hasn’t been found to fight depression, it’s generally recommended for moms-to-be because it helps support fetal brain development and helps decrease the risk of pre-term birth.” 3

Interestingly there was an article that discussed the differences between EPA and DHA . “This article argues that the ratio of EPA to DHA in omega-3 fatty acids is critical to their effectiveness in treating depression. The authors argue that many studies have failed to distinguish between the effects of EPA and DHA, which may explain why some studies have found no benefit of omega-3 supplementation for depression. The authors cite several studies which have found that EPA is more effective than DHA in treating depression and argue that supplements with a higher EPA to DHA ratio may be more effective for treating depression.” 4
EPA and DHA each serves a unique purpose. “In a nutshell, DHA is more of the “neck-up” omega-3 (although it also supports a healthy heart), whereas EPA is more of the “neck-down” omega-3 (although it also supports a healthy mood).” 5

1,2,3 Fish Oil Supplements Good for Heart, Maybe Not For Depression – Allison Aubrey
4 Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: the critical importance of EPA/DHA ratio Authors: McNamara, R.K. and Carlson, S.E. Publication Date: 2006
5 Omega-3s: What’s the difference between DHA and EPA?