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Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce risk of mood disorders

November 21, 2012

Higher intake of docosahexaenoic acid may significantly decrease the risk of anxiety and depressive disorders, suggests a new study from Australia.

In the observational study, questionnaires were used to assess dietary intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders in 935 women aged between 20 and 93 years (1). The study results showed that the highest intakes of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of anxiety disorders. Women with higher intakes of DHA were also about 70% less likely to report a current depressive disorder, compared with women with the lowest average levels.

The researchers commented that future research should now examine the potential of DHA as a treatment strategy for anxiety and focus on determining the optimal level of DHA intake in the prevention and treat-ment of depression. Experts noted that one should be cautious to over-interpret the results. Though some epidemiological studies indicate that low dietary intake and/or tissue levels of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are associated with both anxiety and depression, both mood disorders are not homogeneous entities and should not be treated as such.

References

  1. Jacka F. N. et al. Dietary intake of fish and PUFA, and clinical depressive and anxiety disorders in women. British Journal of Nutrition. Published online October 2012.