Is there any reason to increase the intake of Omega 3 fish oils if you have depression?

Depression can be one of the most debilitating conditions you can get. It can have severe consequences for your life, even leading to suicide. There’s many risk factors in depression, and the causes and treatments aren’t fully understood.

Lets have a look at one aspect of depression. The role of Omega 3 fats in depression, and more specifically whether increasing Omega 3 fish oils in the diet can have a role in reducing the incidence of depression.

Over the last 100 years the incidence of depression has skyrocketed. Although it’s not scientific to make the connection, it may be no co incidence that the amounts of Omega 3 in our diets have plummeted.

That’s for a number of reasons. Modern intensive farming practices, for example, have resulted in the reduction of the incidence of Omega 3 in some of our foods, like meat and eggs.Fish Oil and Depression

Depression is 60 times higher in New Zealand, where the average intake of fish is 40 pounds a year, compared to Japan where it’s 150 pounds a year.

None of this proves a link between Omega 3 and depression, but suggests that some studies would be useful.

And these studies are now appearing. For example a study published in the American Journal of Phychiatry in 2006 found that a deficit of Omega 3 may indeed “make an etiological contribution to mood disorders and that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids may provide a therapeutic strategy”.

That’s pretty clear. That isn’t the only study finding that low levels of Omega fats intake may contribute to mood disorders like bipolar, or manic depression.

How could this be? Well, again unscientifically, it’s well known that DHA fats found in Omega 3 fish oils make up over 50% of the brain. And not only that, they also make up a part of the membrane of nerve cells. And that these nerve cells help in brain communication, which is important in good mental health.

But if you suffer from depression then there may be powerful arguments for taking the best Omega 3 supplements you can, because regardless of how much they may improve your depression they will certainly contribute to your overall health.

As with all of these things there is a need for more studies, and the research moves slowly.
We’ll bring you any more studies that come out linking depression with Omega 3 fats.

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It isn’t just the Omega 3 fats that are good for you, it’s the DHA more specifically.

You’ve probably heard by now that Omega 3 fats are good for your health. That’s not news any more. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll keep reading about 2 particular components of omega 3 fats. DHA and EPA. Lets have a look at DHA today.

DHA is short for Docosahexaenoic acid. Sorry, long name.

Omega 3 fats are a collection of what is known as long chain fatty acids. It’s probably not essential to get into the chemistry because for our readers it’s pretty incomprehensible, and boring. But if you really want to read more chemistry try reading Wikipedia.

There are 3 important long chain fatty acids in Omega 3, DHA, EPA and ALA. The bottom line is that DHA is the most important acid in Omega 3, and is essential to your health. And the critical point to remember is that your body cannot make enough of it’s own DHA. Unlike some essential compounds, which your body can make, the DHA you get must come to you through diet.

DHA is the most important fatty acid found in your brain, which is predominantly fat, and that is one of the reasons why Omega 3s are so beneficial to brain function. Over 50% of the brain is made up of fats.

DHA and EPA are found primarily in fish oils. ALA can be found in plants, but fish supplies the best quantities of the other 2 essential fatty acids. So when you eat fish you get those fats automatically via eating it. The original studies done on Omega 3 fats were done on Eskimos who eat fish almost exclusively.

There’s a range of various conditions that are beneficially affected by increasing the intake of DHA. We’ll look at that in another article.

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Macular degeneration can lead to blindness, so the news that Omega 3 fats can help is good news.

Macular degeneration is the slow degeneration of the vision, with age, and it can eventually lead to blindess. The good news is that new research now shows that the risk of macular degeneration can be reduced by the consumption of good fats, or omega 3 fats.

This is very good news. Why? Because macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness amongst Americans aged over 60. So it’s incidence isn’t to be understated.

Risk factors for AMD include a family history, poor diet, smoking and, obviously, age. There is no cure for AMD caused blindness.Omega 3 and macular degeneration

And it’s effects are devastating. The editors know someone who, some years ago, went blind from macular degeneration at around 65 years of age. A widowed woman, the effects on her life were devastating.

In an Australian study begun in 1992, it was found that eating one serve of fish per week was sufficient to effect a 31% reduced risk of AMD, or age related macular degeneration. The study required participants to keep a food diary and the results were tabulated with photographs of the eyes at 5 and 10 years.

The conclusion was that a regular consumption of foods high in Omega 3 fats like some nuts, olive oil and fish significantly lowered the incidence of AMD, and that a higher intake of foods high in saturated fats and trans fats, as well as a high consumption of processed foods and baked foods raised the risks of blindness.

For some years it’s been recognized that DHA makes up a large portion of the retina in the eye. And it’s also suspected that an adequate supply of DHA during the very early years may well help contribute to the better development of vision in children.

And therefore it would make sense that DHA is important I healthy and older people as much as it is for eye health in children.
So if you’re getting a little older, and aren’t we all, keep up that intake of Omega 3 and in particular olive oil. Who wants to go blind?

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No lesser authority than the American Heart Association recommends the intake of Omega 3 oils.

There is sometimes the perception that taking dietary supplements is a little like witchcraft. Untested and no one really knows what is going to happen if you do.

And there is also the perception that taking dietary supplements is somehow “alternative”. That real people who listen to their doctor wouldn’t consider taking dietary supplements including omega 3 dietary supplements.

So lets consider whether there are down to earth recognized medical authorities that recommend the intake of Omega 3 oils and fats.

The American Heart Association, no less, says that:Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease.”

And they offer recommendations for the intake of omega 3 fats. Their recommendations are that we eat around 2 servings of fish a week. They also suggest eating other sources of omega 3 acids like tofu, soybeans and various oils like canola.

And they are quite specific about people with CHD (coronary heart disease). They should eat at least 1 gram of EPA and DHA per day, and for those who need to lower their triglycerides it’s suggested that they take from 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA as capsules, doctor supervised.

You can’t get any clearer than that. The AHA recommends the intake of omega 3 fats, preferably as food but also as capsules, every day.

Nothing “alternative’ about that.

So if you’ve been wondering if you really ought to avoid all these Omega 3 supplements because, well, they aren’t really mainstream, then listen to the American Heart Association.

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