Thursday, December 09, 2010

Certain Formulations of Omega-3s Might Help With Depression

This is funny - in a sad sort of way. People had been reporting antidepressant effects with fish oil over the years, so the researchers tried pure DHA for depression, pure EPA for depression - to no effect. So what do they find? EPA/DHA together seems to reduced depressive symptoms.

So why is this funny - and sad? Because the researchers looked at fish oil, which is essentially DHA/EPA in combination - with a bit more DHA than EPA - and figured it much be one or the other substance that produced results. The reality is that fish oil, in its basic natural form seems to be the best combination.

Now, I know how science works. It's much easier to research the effects of a single substance than a whole natural oil. Still, it strikes me as amusing that science always tries to improve on nature.

HealthDay News
by By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Dec 8th 2010

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate depression but only when a particular type of fatty acid called DHA is used in the right ratio with another fatty acid known as EPA, a new study suggests.

The researchers analyzed the results of some 15 previous controlled clinical trials on the use of omega-3s -- commonly found in oily fish or in fish oil supplements -- to treat depressed people.

They found that when used by itself, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) alone did not seem to offer any benefit. However, DHA combined with a rather high dose of EPA (eicosapentenoic acid) did improve depressive symptoms.

"Preparations with some EPA had some consistent antidepressant effects, while preparations of pure DHA had no antidepressant effects," said lead study author Dr. John Davis, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "I don't think we can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, but there is now evidence from a number of double-blind studies that suggest mixed DHA/EPA has antidepressant properties, whether by itself or given along with traditional antidepressants."

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was designed as a meta-analysis, in which researchers combine the results of multiple prior studies. The findings were slated for presentation Thursday at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology meeting in Miami.

Davis noted the next step should be to test the anti-depressant effect of the omega-3 fatty acid combination in a large population to establish a dose range.

No comments: