to Prescriptions for Depression:
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Depression: Wouldn't we all love to take an over-the-counter supplement
--and a natural one, too--that is effective for treating this health issue?
You've probably heard a lot about Omega 3s, and about the benefits of fish oil. Here's the science behind that good news...
In his article on the connection between Omega 3 fatty acids and mental depression, health researcher and freelance journalist Kevin Flatt shares the following facts.
What we Don't Know
As research mounts, we still can't find a common cause behind the 20-fold increase in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in the general population since 1945. None of the following explain it:
- attitudes of health professionals
- attitudes of society
- diagnostic criteria
- reporting bias
- institutional or other artifacts
Despite advances in sophistication of pharmacology and cognitive/behavior training, some people still resist treatment. (Not that they are stubborn, but rather, the treatment isn't effective.) Why not?
What we Do Know
Depression is becoming widespread. Factors that contribute to it appear to include:
- genetics (about which you can do nothing...but it's good to know)
- life stressors, and
- environmental factors
The blood of depressed patients has a decreased amount of omega-3 fatty acids in it. That nutrient is critical in development and function of the central nervous system.
That's the science behind enthusiastic research on the nutritional value of these fats to our brains! Eat omega-3; it's good for your brain.
And not just your brain....
...proper nutritional ratio of these fatty acids improves premenstrual symptoms, anorexia nervosa syndrome, bipolar depression, borderline personality disorder and agoraphobia!
Good Fats Bad Fats: What is the Proper Ratio?
2:1 (My thanks to an international panel of lipid experts for that number.) That's twice as much omega-6 as omega-3. In the typical North American diet, at least, we eat closer to a 20:1 ratio. Yipes!
What sources of fats are we eating too much of, those with omega-6, you're probably wondering? A major culprit is vegetable oil, which is very heavy in the omega-6 fat.
Simply put, watch--maybe reduce--your consumption of vegetable oil, and increase your intake of fish and seafood. Two small changes that may make a world of difference to your brain!
(Other dietary considerations include zinc, selenium, folic acid and dietary antioxidants. I'll go into more detail on another page for these.)
And Finally, the Numbers
The current average North American intake of the two fatty acids known as EPA and DHA is approximately 130 mg per day. Our international panel of lipid experts recommends a minimum of 650 mg daily. (More math:Note that supplements are absorbed at about 50%, while whole foods are 90% absorbed into the body.)
So, go on, take your supplement--or enjoy your fish and seafood! Your body will thank you for it.
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