Fish oil and depression: what's the story here? It is said that fish oil and depression go together like this: fish oil supplements, taken regularly, can be a cure for depression and prevent its future onset. Is there really any truth to this? ...
by David Brant, who became a successful althlete in high school, has studied health and nutritional issues for over 15 years and personally uses many fitness ideas and supplements that he writes about..
Well, the answer to the question of whether fish oil cures
depression does seem to be "yes." But the devil is in the
It has long been said that "fish is brain food", and with good reason. Fish, especially oily fish such as wild salmon and trout, is high in concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids. One of the properties of these fatty acids is the strengthening of the cell membranes of neurons. It likely also strengthens the connections between neurons — the ganglions. It is widely held that a literally strong brain is more resistant to depression.
less likelihood of clinical depression
This doesn't mean that very bright people can't become depressed because. of course, they can and do. But there is less likelihood of clinical depressive meltdown when there's a strong brain, and Omega-3 fatty acids help build one.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid: our body doesn't produce it, it must synthesize it from what we eat. The same goes for Omega-6 fatty acids, which we also need. Omega-6 fatty acids help the body fend off viral invaders and similar pathogens by enabling tissue inflammation. Omega-3, on the other hand, keeps inflammation from getting out of hand. This is vitally important since it is now believed by many that all cancers are caused by inflammation.
According to research, we should be
getting anywhere from a 1:1 to a
4:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. Unfortunately, our modern diets with
their huge use of vegetable, corn, and seed oils and processed foods,
and the average person's lack of sufficient amounts of fish, seafood,
and legumes in the diet, are giving the vast majority of us ratios more
like 10:1 to 20:1!
Omega-3 supplementation through fish oil supplements in clinical trials has added more to the fish oil and depression story. Many doctors are reporting a lot of success with treating young children who have manic-depression, depression, ADD, and ADHD with fish oil supplementation — and there are similar reports about children with autism. Some children seem completely cured by the fish oil or Omega-3 supplements, while others seem to do better with a mixture of the supplements and the synthetic drug treatments.
Another important body of research here comes from neuroscientist
Andrew L. Stoll, MD, of Harvard Medical School, who
has been researching the effects of fish oils on psychiatric patients
who suffer from manic-depression ("bipolar disorder" these days) since
1993, when he began looking for alternatives to lithium and other
synthetic drug treatments since in spite of their success rates these
all have what are for many patients intolerable and strong
Dr. Stoll does point out that fish oil
supplements should not be
automatically regarded as a panacea for those who suffer from
depressive disorders. Nevertheless, the link between fish oil and
depression seems well established.
Fish oil and depression seem to be, at least for many people, "cure and that which is cured". Perhaps fish oil supplements are right for you — and even if you aren't a depressive person, they may keep you that way.
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