Omega 3 fatty acids have no role in anxiety and depression, finds study
It is a common belief that increased consumption of omega-3 fats protects against, or even reverse, conditions such as anxiety and depression.
But a systematic review finds that omega-3 supplements offer no benefit.According to new research from the University of East Anglia,Omega 3 fats have little or no effect on anxiety and depression.The findings of the study have been published today in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in nuts and seeds and fatty fish, such as salmon and are essential for good health. Omega-3 fats are also readily available as over-the-counter supplements and they are widely bought and used.
The research team looked at 31 trials of adults with and without depression or anxiety. More than 41,470 participants were randomized to consume more long-chain omega-3 fats (fish oils), or maintain their usual intake, for at least six months
They found that the supplements had little or no effect in preventing depression or anxiety symptoms.
Lead author Dr Lee Hooper, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "Our previous research has shown that long-chain omega-3 supplements, including fish oils, do not protect against conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes or death.
"This large systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods. Despite all this information, we don't see protective effects.
"The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect of long-chain omega-3 fats on depression or anxiety, and they should not be encouraged as a treatment."
Dr Katherine Deane, from UEA's School of Health Sciences, said: "Oily fish can be a very nutritious food as part of a balanced diet.
"But we found that there is no demonstrable value in people taking omega-3 oil supplements for the prevention or treatment of depression and anxiety.
"Considering the environmental concerns about industrial fishing and the impact it is having on fish stocks and plastic pollution in the oceans, it seems unhelpful to continue to swallow fish oil tablets that give no benefit."
Journal Information: British Journal of Psychiatry
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