The ability to produce a highly concentrated form of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that is free from lipid peroxides, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, and other harmful compounds has revolutionized nutritional medicine. A huge body of scientific evidence shows that fish oil supplementation can prevent or benefit over 60 different health conditions.
Fish Oils in Depression:
The importance of omega-3 fatty acids to brain function relates to their role in the phospholipid composition of nerve cell membranes. Studies have shown that EPA and DHA influence:
- The fluidity of brain cell membranes.
- Neurotransmitter synthesis.
- Neurotranmitter binding.
- Signal transmission.
- The activity of key enzymes that break down neurotransmitters like serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Fish oils concentrated for EPA and DHA have been shown to have positive effects for patients with depression as well as in bipolar disorder (manic depression).
In a nursing home in Pavia, Italy, 46 depressed women ages 66 to 95 years were given either a fish oil supplement or a placebo. The daily dosage of fish oil was 2,500 mg providing 1,670 mg of EPA and 830 mg of DHA. The primary endpoint was the improvement of depressive symptoms as evaluated by Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Secondary endpoints were the evaluation of modifications of erythrocyte membrane phospholipids fatty acid profile and results on a quality of life scale. All parameters were assessed before and after the treatment period of 8 weeks. At the end of the trial, depression was significantly lowered in the fish oil group with no change with the placebo. Quality of life scores were also significantly increased only in the intervention group. Compliance was good, as confirmed by erythrocyte membrane increases of EPA and DHA in the intervention group. The authors concluded that fish oil supplemention “in elderly female patients reduces the occurrence of depressive symptoms, improves phospholipids fatty acids profile and health-related quality of life.”
Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Opizzi A, et al. Long chain omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation in the treatment of elderly depression: effects on depressive symptoms, on phospholipids fatty acids profile and on health-related quality of life. J Nutr Health Aging. 2011;15(1):37-44.