By Lori Matthews
Researchers have known for a long time that the sea holds many great cures and treatments for humans. Some of the compounds made naturally in sea life are not found anywhere on land and have proven to help humans in a number of ways. Now researchers are saying that fish oil that contains omega-3 fatty acids can help people fight depression.
Doctors at the Massachusetts General Hospital who have watched the clinical trials report that they are impressed with the results. These early results should encourage more testing. Since fish oil does not have negative effects, it is a study that can easily be conducted on a wide scale.
Many scientists and researchers first became interested in fish oil when they observed that the countries with the highest rates of fish consumption had the lowest rates of reported depression. It was also observed that mothers in England that ate little or no fish during pregnancy had twice the risk of going through postpartum depression when compared to women that ate higher amounts of fish during pregnancy. These initial observations are what caused scientists and researchers to want to find out why these trends occurred, and if fish really was the cause. In the research, it was found that the specific cause of the anti-depression benefits was the omega-3 fatty acids found in many fish oils. Researchers have also fed omega-3 fatty acids, independent of fish oils, to piglets and found the omega-3 fatty acids had a similar effect on the piglet brains as some prescription medicines does. Some anti-depressants help fight depression by raising the level of serotonin, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to do the same.
Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced by the human body and are mainly found in seafood. Of the omega-3 fatty acids, the one with the largest impact on the human brain is DHA. DHA is believed to help neurons communicate, which means the signals in the brain can be processed faster and better. Like other omega-3 fatty acids, DHA cannot be produced by the human body, so we must attain it purely from our diets.
At Sheffield University, researchers have found that depressed patients given omega-3 fatty acids see improvement more than twice as often as depressed patients given a placebo. Many patients that have taken anti-depressants to combat their depression find that it makes them feel strange. While omega-3 fatty acids raise the level of serotonin much like these anti-depressants do, no patients have reported the side effects that they can have.
Many early studies indicate that as little as one gram of omega-3 fatty acids is effective in treatment. This dose can be taken as part of a supplement, or simply by eating fish such as salmon, tuna, or sardines. These positive early results should lead to more study using larger sample sizes. Some researchers even feel omega-3 fatty acids will be effective at fighting the effects of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Even though fish oil may not help everyone with depression, people who do not like how some anti-depressants make them feel might be very interested to discuss with their doctor if they can try it as a means to fight their depression.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Lori Matthews studies health, nutrition and wellness. She enjoys writing articles on health for both people and pets.
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