As the days get colder and the nights get longer, the rates of winter seasonal depression increase. In parts of Sweden, rates of depression can increase by up to 10% in winter. Harvard Health says it can happen due to a lack of light exposure, which disrupts your circadian cycle, affects your mood, and releases less serotonin (the feel-good hormone) than normal. Typically, consumers are looking for ways to combat feelings of depression with supplements, and one of the most commonly used supplements includes omega-3 fatty acids.
And yet, while previous analyzes have linked the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids to prevent depression, a new study published in JAMA Network debunks the myth by stating that Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids does not prevent depression in adults.
This randomized clinical trial included 18,353 adults over the age of 50, who had no depression or clinically relevant depressive symptoms to begin with. In the study, some participants took an omega-3 supplement compared to a group who took a placebo over a five-year treatment period. Through mood scoring, the researchers found no significant difference in the omega-3 group compared to the placebo group. They concluded that the use of omega-3 supplementation is not recommended for preventing depression in adults.
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These results are shocking when compared to other previous research, which claims the opposite with omega-3 supplementation.
One Nutrients A study published in 2020 was able to link the consumption of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – a type of omega-3 fatty acid – and feelings of happiness and fulfillment for a study of 133 participants. This type of omega-3 is found in cold water fish, such as salmon.
Another opinion in Neurosciences & Therapeutics, evaluated three different studies of omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment for depression and concluded that consumption of EPA was beneficial for adults with depression, but only for a very small number of participants, between 8 and 28 for each study.
Nevertheless, a report published in Integrative medicine research evaluated different studies which claim that omega-3 fatty acids are an effective treatment for depression and found no connection with their results. The most recent JAMA Network The study consolidates this conclusion thanks to its randomized controlled trial, with more than 18,000 participants, a number significantly higher compared to the other studies carried out.
Whether it’s seasonal, clinical, bipolar, postpartum, or other types of depression that can occur, there is no conclusive evidence to show that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation will work to prevent it.
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