The "feel-good" hormone serotonin, depleted by pregnancy, can be replenished by adding sources of omega-3 to the diets of pregnant women and new mothers - a development particularly beneficial to the 10 to 15 percent of women at risk for postpartum depression, according to a recent University of Montreal study published in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Omega-3 levels fall during pregnancy and nursing of infants due to the transferral of these vital lipids in elevated quantities to the fetus via the umbilical cord and to newborns via breast milk.
These findings come on the heels of other recent studies such as the one recently published by France's Institute of Neurobiology in the journal Nature Neuroscience,** confirming that Omega-3 fatty acids - especially DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - are vital for normal brain development and neuronal function and can influence our moods and emotional stability. Therefore fatty-acid deficiency can make human beings more prone to stress and psychological symptoms such as depression, adjustment disorders, violence or suicide.
In order to reach omega-3 levels necessary to combat such maladies, individuals should consume at least four servings per week of fish - which, however, relatively few in Western industrialized societies manage to do.