A daily omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may reduce symptoms of anxiety by about 20%, says a new US study.
In the randomized controlled trial, 68 healthy participants were randomly assigned to receive daily a capsule containing 2085 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 348 mg docosahexanoic acid (DHA) or a placebo for 12 weeks (1). The study results showed a 14% reduction in levels of the production of pro-inflammatory interleukin 6 (IL-6), as well as a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms in the omega-3 group when compared with the placebo group.
The researchers commented that their study provides the first evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may have potential anti-anxiety effects for individuals without an anxiety disorder diagnosis. Pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., interleukin 6) promote the secretion of the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a primary gateway to hormonal stress responses. The CRH also stimulates the amygdala, a key brain region for fear and anxiety. Thus, a decrease in inflammation could influence anxiety positively, they added.
The study adds to an increasing number of trials reporting on omega-3 fatty acid’s positive cognitive effects related to mood and behavior. Up until now the majority of scientific research has focused on the cardiovascular benefits of the fatty acids.