Once again, omega-3 essential fatty acids are in the research. A recent study published in this month’s Brain, Behavior and Immunity found that increasing omega-3 essential acid intake may lower both anxiety symptoms and pro-inflammatory response.
The chief study investigator, Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Institute for Behavioural Medicine Research in Columbus, Ohio, found that individuals in the study had a 20 per cent reduction in their anxiety and a similar reduction in pro-inflammatory constituents of the blood.
One of the most important markers found in blood that has a significant role in inflammation is that of IL-6, a precursor to inflammation.
It’s well known that chronic inflammation can lead to a great number of health problems including cardiovascular disease, stroke and arthritis.
Supplementing with an omega-3 essential fatty acid can help protect against any would be inflammation.
There are two key constituents within omega-3 essential fatty acids: EPA and DHA.
It is these two compounds alone that are found to benefit mood and reduce global inflammation.
In this study they used a ratio of 7:1 EPA to DHA as it is believed that EPA has a relatively stronger anti-inflammatory and anti-depressants affect than and DHA.
It’s interesting to note that in both depression and anxiety, both have been found to greatly increase the amount of pro-inflammatory constituents circulating in the blood.
It’s also well known in the literature that omega-3 essential fatty acids are very effective at reducing inflammation, but this study is exciting in the sense that it also had an effect of lowering anxiety.
The individuals in the study received omega-3 essential fatty acid supplementation for a period of 12 weeks. During the course of the study, participants were interviewed six times and serial blood samples were taken during low and high stress periods.
In the group that had the essential fatty acid supplementation, blood levels were found to be normal in high stress times in comparison to low stress times.
Therefore, it’s postulated that the omega-3 essential acids reduce the stress response in those subjects studied. In addition to a statistically significant reduction in the amount of IL-6 production, there was a reported 20 per cent decrease in anxiety symptoms, when compared to the placebo group.
It is worthy of mention of that the subjects in the study were of a mean average age of 23 years.
Therefore, there is probably even a higher application to those who are significantly older.
The co-author of the study, Dr. Ron Glaser, stated that: “Anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases.”
In 2006, The American Psychiatric Association issued recommendations that all patients who have a psychiatric disorder should take at least one gram of omega-3 essential acids per day.
This supplementation would probably be about five times the amount of omega-3 essential fat acids and then you would get in a daily serving of salmon, therefore it is important to supplement with this essential fatty acid rather than to rely on diet alone.
Knowing what I know about omega-3 essential fatty acids, both in research and clinical experience, I feel it is one of the most important supplements that one can pick if they were to pick only one.
Its benefits are far-reaching and very effective.
Markus Thiel is a chiropractor practicing in Kelowna.