Omega-3 EPA or combination of EPA and DHA provide clear antidepressant benefits

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago completed a review of previously published research on antidepressant benefits of Omega-3 essential fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The review comprised a meta-analysis of 15 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in patients with depression and results were presented at the recent annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.   

The analysis indicated that DHA alone did not appear to offer any antidepressant benefits, where as patients taking EPA or a combination of EPA and DHA experienced clear antidepressant benefits. 

John M. Davis, M.D., research professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago was quoted, "Our analysis clarifies the precise type of Omega-3 fatty acid that is effective for people with depression and explains why previous findings have been contradictory." Davis continued, "The EPA predominant formulation is necessary for the therapeutic action to occur. The DHA predominant formulation does not have antidepressant efficacy."

Jon Getzinger, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC) said, "Many consumers still do not fully understand the role of EPA and DHA and the importance of having both EPA and DHA as part of a healthy diet.  It is believed that EPA plays a functional role in the brain, while DHA plays a structural role." Getzinger continued, "Consuming DHA alone which retrogrades poorly to EPA appears to be insufficient to provide the benefits associated with the combination of EPA and DHA that is found in fish oil. This analysis reinforces our understanding of the complementary roles that both EPA and DHA have in the maintenance of healthy brain function, in addition to the substantial scientific evidence supporting the benefits of heart health."

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 20.9 million American adults suffer from various mood disorders, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.  NIMH also reports that data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey indicates that close to sixty billion dollars was spent on mental healthcare just in the United States during that year.

Omega-3 EPA and DHA continue to be among the most researched ingredients, with over 14,000 published studies. As the amount of research demonstrating the wide-ranging benefits of Omega-3 EPA and DHA increases, studies like this and the recent recognition by European health authorities of a daily reference intake of 250 mg/day of EPA and DHA, emphasize the fact that both EPA and DHA from fish oil are important for overall well-being.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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