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