Omega 3 Oils and Depression

A recent large scale study from Japan has highlighted how the national diet which is rich in oily fish, means there are lower levels of depression amongst the population.fishoil

Many previous studies examining the effects of omega-3 oils on depression and mood balance have looked at the average Western diet which is typically low in oily fish.  The Japanese traditionally eat much more oily fish, thereby having a higher baseline level of omega-3.

The study looked at 1050 men and 1073 women all aged over 40. Results showed that higher intake levels of the omega-3 fats EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) were inversely associated with symptoms of depression.

Both EPA and DHA play key roles in the structure and function of the brain, supporting communication between brain cells.

The importance of omega-3 fats to brain health can be likened to a mobile phone signal: when levels are low, cell communication is crackly and interrupted, similar to poor mobile phone reception!

Oily fish and krill oil are major sources of both EPA and DHA.  Certain types of algae can supply DHA whilst flax seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts provide ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), the ‘parent’ acid of EPA and DHA.

The difficulty with relying on ALA as a source of omega-3 oils is that a lot of the oils are lost in the different conversion processes ALA must go through to become EPA and DHA.

Many other nutrients are needed to support this conversion: magnesium, B-vitamins, vitamin C, zinc – and if dietary sources of these nutrients is low, or digestion is impaired, there are knock on effects on EPA and DHA levels.

Try these simple steps to support your EPA and DHA levels:

  1. Include oily fish such as sardines, wild salmon, mackerel, pilchards and trout in your diet 3 times a week

  2. If you dislike fish, consider a Krill oil supplement.  Krill oil provides EPA and DHA in a highly bioavailable form which is easily used by cells throughout your body

  3. For vegetarians & vegans, include hemp, flax and walnut oils daily.  ‘Udo’s Oil Blend’ is a fantastic vegan oil blend of various nuts and seeds, supplying a balanced range of Omegas 3, 6 and 9.

  4. If you have difficulty digesting fats, include bitter foods like rocket, watercress, mustard greens, dandelion leaves and apple cider vinegar before meals to stimulate bile production.

  5. Digestive enzymes may also be useful: lipase is the specific enzyme for fat digestion.

If you’re seeking a natural nutritional way to deal with depression, anxiety or hormonal mood imbalance, drop me a line at or call 07910 705272 TODAY!


Study reference:

Horikawa C et al (2016) Cross-sectional association between serum concentrations of n-3 long-chain PUFA and depressive symptoms: results in Japanese community dwellers British Journal of Nutrition vol 115:672-80