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Feeling Depressed? You May Be Low in Omega-3 Fatty Acids


Raw Salmon

A 2013 American Society for Nutrition study found that depressive symptoms had an inverse relationship to an intake of omega-3 fatty acids in American adults. The researchers found that the more women ate foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, the lower their depressive symptoms.

Several studies tout the benefits of omega-3s on boosting serotonin levels, improving brain function and mood and a slew of other impressive claims, but this study may imply more promising results.

A cross sectional study was done of adults in Baltimore, Maryland using a depression scale. Eighteen percent of men and nearly 26 percent of women were experiencing elevated depressive symptoms within the population. For women, those who were in the uppermost third of high omega-3 intakes had a reduced chance of elevated depressive symptoms by a whopping 49 percent. There was a substantial difference between genders, and this inverse relationship did not translate to men.

Missing Component Begs an Important Question

So is the relationship between depression and women in Baltimore all related to omega-3s? Or could it also be lack of vitamin D? We know the average American living above the 37th parallel (Richmond, Virginia and north) which includes the location of this study, is not producing enough vitamin D from sun exposure alone. A low vitamin D level can also cause depressive symptoms.

Regardless of the impact of vitamin D not addressed within the study, a higher intake of omega-3s can still be a beneficial to all.

Four Omega 3 Boosting Recipes to Curb Depression

1. Spinach, Olive Oil and Walnuts Salad

2. Spaghetti Squash with Ham and Walnuts

3. Hummus with Walnuts

4. Grilled Salmon Teriyaki

Carlene Thomas RD,LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in weight loss and wellness. She provides nutrition guidance to the public in a variety of ways including corporate wellness, private clients and contributes an expert nutrition voice to a variety of media.

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