Omega 3 Fish Oil Vs. Depression, Do Supplements Make A Difference?:
Sometimes when modern medicine and prescription meds don’t solve things, we go looking elsewhere.
Mankind’s long tradition of medication with herbs can also make us turn to supplements, too.
But recently the FDA has cracked-down on many companies claiming results, so there is a lot of doubt out there.
But an Australian team just came up with some promising supplement-based results for one of society’s big problems: Depression…
Anything To Avoid Side-Effects!:
So since Depression is a big problem that seems intractable,
Just like any other health-issue, people go looking for supplements to fix it.
And the list of them is fairly-extensive, as you might guess for a problem of its size.
A few of these include: St. John’s Wort, 5HTP, Resveratrol, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, and SAM-e,
However, The Short Answer for the current study is that the Australian team found 1 better than the others, and it was Fish Oil; at least this time around.
Read on for more details…
Prescription Meds For Mental Illness Can Be Dangerous:
The supplement market is pretty huge,
As we said before, there is a lot of traditional herbal medicine from all over the world,
And all over history, that backs up at least some of the anecdotal claims.
You can’t really blame people for trying it, because meds don’t really fix everything,
Or really do it that well; especially if you take into account the side-effects.
Some of the drugs for Depression are even on the potentially-harmful list,
When it comes to their correlation with Alzheimer’s disease.
A few of these include:
Supplements Aren’t Exactly Perfect, Either:
Despite the fact the supplement industry sells upwards of $37 Billion a year,
They have a slightly-different problem to the world of prescription meds,
They are largely-untested, barely-regulated,
And difficult to assess if even they have any beneficial effects,
Other than anecdotal-evidence through the social grapevine.
Not only is there no Bioequivalency or Metabolism-based testing for supplements,
And No, not every manufacturer wants to pay USP to certify their products like NatureMade does.
So for many supplements, there are a lot of unknowns and so to combat that,
We do get the occasional university study on their effectiveness.
So Here’s What The Study Found:
But in the case of Fish Oil and a few others, Depression-sufferers are in luck.
Because Western Sydney’s NICM branch just did the largest meta-analysis on supplements for psychological problems ever.
Even though the disorder is currently-estimated to affect over 300 Million people worldwide,
This largest-study was able to analyze 33 different papers, across ~11,000 subjects being treated for all kinds of mental-illnesses.
5) Personality Disorders
Among those results, the vitamins and supplements tested were Fish Oil, NAC, Folate, Vitamins E, C, B and D, and the Minerals Magnesium and Zinc.
And out of all tested,
The strongest-evidence was for using high-EPA-concentration Omega-3 supplements like fish oil as an add-on to prescription-medications for Depression.
-Sort-of like the idea behind Abilify.
Which is odd, because this means Omega-3s are doing something that even prescription medications aren’t.
The Secondary Results:
After that, there was some small-evidence for:
1) Minor benefits for ADHD from Omega-3s
2) Mild suggestion that NAC may help as an add-on for Mood Disorders of any type, and also Schizophrenia
3) Folate supplements (that are probably Methyl-Folate, but not Folic Acid) for Depression and Schizophrenia
However among all those 33 studies, they found No evidence for:
1) Omega-3s to help Schizophrenia or Health-problems of any kind
2) Vitamins or Minerals helping any mental illness
So, even though they can’t speak to other health problems,
There may still be more work to do to see how far other supplements can help.
-Which is tough, because there is often either a lot of hype or a lot of skepticism.
But this is yet another study that should silence a few more of the “Fish Oil is BS!”-crowd.
So What Could Explain This?:
So one of the answers that’s easier to come by relates to Nutrition and Inflammation.
Right now, most of us are carrying around a little extra bodyfat.
Well, it turns out that bodyfat doesn’t really regulate itself very well, and ends up putting out excess hormones that cause inflammation.
The second part come from the Big Corn Conspiracy!
The standard balance of oils in our food historically between Omega-6 vs. Omega-3 has been approximated at either 2:1 or 1:1.
Today, because of processed-foods of any kind, and the fact there’s either Corn or Canola oil in everything,
That dietary-ratio is closer to 20:1.
And if you asked any well-versed doctor to help you solve the problem of Depression, the list of pros who wouldn’t ask about your diet would be a short one.
So because inflammation has been implicated in depression,
Getting more Omega-3 fish oils in your diet could be helping out a great deal.
What Are Some Things To Look For In Omega-3 Oils?:
Now even though the study showed the EPA part of Omega-3 oil seemed to be more-effective,
It’s probably better to get a balance of all the good parts of it, including DHA and ALA.
As recent research might suggest, getting all your supplements from your Diet is also probably better, too.
But if you can’t, there are tons out there with several different mixes.
But be careful as we said before, there is almost no regulation or testing out there.
So one good place to start would be this page on Labdoor.com.
And on that page, the top 8 rated fish oils are:
1) WHC UnoCardio 1000 + Vitamin D 1000
2) Viva Naturals Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil
3) WHC UnoCardio X2
4) OmegaVia Fish Oil
5) Nutrigold Triple Strength Omega-3 Gold
6) Omax3 Ultra-Pure
7) The Vitamin Shoppe Omega-3 Fish Oil
8) Ocean Blue Professional Omega-3
So even though fish oil supplements can be Hilariously-Overpriced at times,
If you’re willing to move down in ratings a little, there may be something there for every price-bracket.
But you might consider checking out their list, instead of just grabbing whatever’s at-hand in the supermarket.
And while we’re on the subject of vitamins, even though the study does not recommend any,
Dr. Neal Barnard does think that a small handful of mixed-nuts every day can certainly help erase some inflammation from your brain, too.
And with all the good news that keeps coming out about them, it might also be a good idea.
How Much Did Omega 3 Did The Subjects Take For Depression?:
Another reason you may need to do the price/performance calculation very carefully,
Is that most results demonstrated in the study with positive affect,
Occurred at a dose between 930 and 4400mpg of EPA per day,
With one small group examined having positive results with 300-2500mg of EPA or DHA per day.
So depending on which one you choose, this could get expensive fast for the amount of EPA you might consider.
But for a chance to improve your mental-state without prescription meds, maybe it’s worth it.
Though it’s not part of the study, I personally experienced positive benefits on mood at about 6mg EPA/lb of body weight,
Starting at about the 2nd week of supplementation with the NatureMade brand.
Another Angle. Circulation:
One of the most interesting things I noticed about supplements for your brain and that science picked-up on too,
Is that what’s good for your Heart is also good for your brain.
And strangely-enough, Circulation might be another one of Omega-3’s hidden superpowers.
For example, here are some brain-boosters that also have pro-circulatory effects:
3) Fish Oil
6) Cardiovascular Exercise
Almost all of these are also associated with some neuro-protective effect, too so it’s an interesting coincidence.
Just A Cautionary FYI:
If you go over to this page at WebMD,
It will give you some of the Side-Effects, Interactions, and reported Dosing from other studies.
So do note that Fish Oil of any type may interact with Blood-Pressure Medication, Blood-Thinning Medication, Birth Control Pills, and Some Weight-Loss Medication.
They also generally note that any more than 3000mg of Fish Oil/day may be excessive.
It may also reduce some of the action of your Immune-System.
So, just like any drug or supplement taken in dosages that might cause drug-like actions,
Always check in with your doctor to see if it’s appropriate for you at the dosages reported even in a study!
Not Perfect, But Still Great News For More “Natural” Remedies:
So as-always, your “mileage” may/will vary.
But this gigantic Meta-Synthesis/Analysis by the NICM represents amazing work that does reinforce at least a few supplement claims.
And it does temporarily silence at least a few of the Supplement haters,
Regardless of how careful you have to be; just visit Labdoor or Clean Label for that one.
And in-spite of diet, nutrient-imbalance, or the difference between getting your vitamins in pills vs. food,
It sure gives a new dose of hope to the 300+ Million sufferers of depression that maybe something as critiqued as Fish Oil & Omega 3s really can make a difference for them.
Photo Credits: “plant food produce and vegetable”, by David B Townsend
• Source: NICM
• More Coverage: WebMD
• Source Study: WorldPsy. – The efficacy and safety of nutrient supplements in the treatment of mental disorders: a meta‐review of meta‐analyses of randomized controlled trials