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Fight Childhood Depression with Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplementation

July, 2006

Fish Oil Helps Childhood Depression

A study by researchers at the Beer-Sheva Mental Health Center in Israel was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry  and analyzed the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in pre-adolescent children diagnosed with depression. The researchers investigated 28 depressed children between the ages 6 and 12 years old and were randomly assigned to omega-3 fatty acids or a placebo. A combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was used. At the end of their trial, 7 out of 10 children in the treatment group and none of the children in the placebo group had a reduction in depression scores of more than 50%. The researchers found significant improvement in subjectís scores on depression inventory tests. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, as many as one in every 33 children may suffer from clinical depression and depression in adolescents could be one in eight.

The balance of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may be imbalanced in depressed individuals. Fish oils may influence serotonin function in brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates emotion and is deficient in depressed brains. The Western diet has lower omega-3 intake than in other countries and tends to have higher depression rates.  A study linked fish consumption by country with low depression. (NY Reuters 9/3/98.). Other fatty acid benefits were found in studies for children with learning difficulties, behavioral problems and ADHD. A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry  have shown that a daily dose of 1 gram of an omega-3 fatty acid for 12 weeks reduce symptoms of depression. Another study from Crete showed that higher long-term dietary intake of DHA from fish or fish oil is associated with a decreased risk for depression in adults.

Fish oils have been known to provide many benefits for the body. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and have anti-inflammatory effects.

You can find food sources of omega-3 fatty acids in those cold water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. Other food sources can be obtained from dark leafy greens, walnuts, butter, free-range chicken eggs, and pasture-raised beef. Remember, you should consult your physician before beginning fish oil supplementation.


1) Nemets H, Nemets B, Apter A, et al. Omega-3 treatment of childhood depression: a controlled, double-blind pilot study. American Journal of Phsychiatry. 2006 Jun; 163(6):1098-100.

2) The Natural Standard, July 2006, pg 4.

           Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplementation can be extremely beneficial for both kids and adults!

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