During the last century, risk for major depression has increase significantly. In addition, the age of onset, has decrease; arising earlier in life. Over the same time period there have been significant changes in dietary intakes. Not only has the intake of fats augmented but the percentage of saturated and trans fats has greatly overthrown the percentage of healthy omega-3s. Diets such as the Standard American Diet (SAD) that emphasize processed, packaged and convenience foods do not contain enough brain-building omega-3s.
The human brain is more than 60% fat, with a significant portion made of omega-3s.
The brain requires more omega-3 fatty acids than any other system in the body. With enough omega-3s, the brain performs at its peak level. This is essential for regulating mood, emotions, anxiety, sleep and staving off depression.
Research shows that countries with the highest fish in their diet (containing high amounts of omega-3s), have the lowest rates of depressive disorders. Japan ranks first in fish consumption and has the lowest rates of depression (0.12%). In North America, the fish consumption is among the lowest in the world, and depression rates are at 6%!
Over 17 million Americans experience depressive symptoms. These can range from changes in eating or sleeping patterns, lack of concentration, decreased energy, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, anxiety or mood swings. As a result of these dramatic rates of depression, antidepressant medication is at the top of the list of drugs in many countries.
Scientists continue to evaluate more “natural” remedies to help with mood and emotional health. These include the use of omega-3 fatty acids, notably eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Based on science, higher omega-3 supplementation is correlated with a decreased risk of depression, seasonal mood changes and an overall improvement in mood.
A study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that 1000 mg of EPA provided the most significant improvements in depression, anxiety, sleep and libido.
Mood supporting nutrients like omega-3s can be found in cold, deep water fatty-fish such as sardines, anchovies and mackerel. Consuming fatty fish at least twice a week as well an EPA supplements will help balance your mental health, improve mood, reduce stress and provide an overall sense of well-being.