Feeling a little stressed these days? Add some omega-3 fatty acids to your diet to help improve your mood. We’ve known that omega-3s from fish oil helps decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. Now we know that fish oil can help with mental health, too.
A recent Ohio State study found a connection between improved anxiety/depression and a daily dose of fish oil. In the study, two groups of students were given psychological questionnaires. One group took 2,500 mg of fish oil daily, the other group did not. The students that took the supplement had a 20 percent reduction in anxiety.
This is because the brain is composed of 60 percent fat, and omega-3 fatty acid, or Docosahexaenoic acid, is the most concentrated fatty acid making up the brain’s cell membranes. Adding the supplement gave the students even more of what their brain is made of and needs.
These acids come from cold water fish, and because the typical American diet doesn’t have much cold water fish in it, most of us are lacking omega-3s.
Examples of good, readily-available sources would be salmon, tuna, herring and sardines. Wild caught, as opposed to farmed, salmon or tuna is recommended because they contain less mercury. Canned tuna is wild caught. Salmon from the seafood counter and frozen seafood will be labeled as either wild caught or farmed.
To see reduced anxiety benefits like those found in the study, consume cold water seafood high in omega-3s at least two times per week and take a refined fish oil supplement. Aim for a total of 1000 to 2000 mg daily.
Keep in mind, it’s still important to eat a well-balanced diet for optimal health. Omega-3 isn’t a magic pill. You can’t eat a bacon double-cheeseburger, simply take your omega-3 and expect to improve your health. Eat a diet rich in nutrients that includes fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains and other healthy fats, too.