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Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a serious mental health issue that affects an estimated 7% of American adults every year, and it is a leading cause of disability world-wide. Previously, we have discussed the association between depression and magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3s.

Omega-3 Effect on Depression Backed by Strongest Level of Evidence

The world’s largest review (called a meta-synthesis) of nutrient supplements and mental disorders published by Firth et al. examined 33 meta analyses of randomized controlled trials on dietary supplements and mental health. The analysis included data from 10,951 individuals with diagnoses such as depression, stress and anxiety, bipolar, personality disorder, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The researchers looked at the potential benefits of specific nutrient supplements, including dosage, target symptoms, safety and tolerability, for each of the mood and mental disorders.

The strongest evidence from this review showed the effect of omega-3s (with an average dose of 1422 mg/day of EPA) on reducing symptoms of MDD, which produced benefits beyond those of taking antidepressants alone. The strongest effect was seen with omega-3 supplements that contained at least 50% EPA.

The chart below is a plot of the effect of omega-3 supplementation on depressive disorders as found in this analysis. The black diamonds represent studies with significant findings (where p<0.05) compared to placebo (9 out of the 12 studies included); circles represent studies with non-significant findings compared to placebo (3 out of 12 studies).

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Other findings from this review included the safety of all nutrients reviewed when taken as recommended, the absence of any serious adverse effect or contraindication between each nutrient and the psychiatric medications taken, a positive effect of omega-3 supplements on ADHD, a positive effect of folate on MDD and schizophrenia, and a positive effect of N-acetycysteine on mood and schizophrenia.

Are you or someone you love suffering from depression?

Could improving their omega-3 status help? Testing your vitamin D and Omega-3 Index levels and taking daily steps to keep your Omega-3 Index at a target of at least 8%, and your vitamin D at a target level of 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L), is important for many aspects of mental health. Find out your levels today! Log on to the shop (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.

Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!

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How can I track my omega-3 intake and levels?

To help you track your nutrient intake and levels, GrassrootsHealth has created an online tracking system called myData-myAnswers. You can also track your health conditions and symptoms to see how your nutrient intake and status may impact your health and how you feel. Check it out today!