Omega-3s may beat antidepressant drugs

Omega-3s may beat antidepressant drugs

Omega-3s may beat antidepressant drugs, according to a new analysis of previous data from researchers in the Netherlands.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for our health. We need omega-3 fatty acids for controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. Our body cannot make omega-3 fats, we must either supplement or get them through food.

Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, nuts, and chia seeds to name a few.

Previous research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids are great for brain health. Recent research from The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry even showed that they may reduce childhood behavioral problems.

The Netherlands researchers analyzed data from 13 studies that involved over 1,223 people.

The study abstract explained the methods and results:

After taking potential publication bias into account, meta-analysis showed an overall beneficial effect of omega-3 PUFAs on depressive symptoms in MDD (standardized mean difference=0.398 (0.114-0.682), P=0.006, random-effects model). As an explanation for significant heterogeneity (I(2)=73.36, P<0.001), meta-regression showed that higher EPA dose (β=0.00037 (0.00009-0.00065), P=0.009), higher percentage antidepressant users (β=0.0058 (0.00017-0.01144), P=0.044) and earlier publication year (β=-0.0735 (-0.143 to 0.004), P=0.04) were significantly associated with better outcome for PUFA supplementation. Additional sensitivity analyses were performed. In conclusion, present meta-analysis suggested a beneficial overall effect of omega-3 PUFA supplementation in MDD patients, especially for higher doses of EPA and in participants taking antidepressants. Future precision medicine trials should establish whether possible interactions between EPA and antidepressants could provide targets to improve antidepressant response and its prediction. Furthermore, potential long-term biochemical side effects of high-dosed add-on EPA supplementation should be carefully monitored.

To simplify, the researchers found that the anti-depressant effects of omega-3s rival those of prescription drugs like Zoloft and Prozac.

This could be a next step to personalizing the treatment for depression and other disorders,” said lead author Dr. Roel JT Mocking, of the University of Amsterdam.

The study showing that omega-3s may beat antidepressant drugs was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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1. “Reduction in Behavior Problems with Omega-3 Supplementation in Children Aged 8–16 years: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled, Stratified, Parallel-group Trial.” Wiley Online Library. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
2. “Meta-analysis and Meta-regression of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation for Major Depressive Disorder.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

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