A Fat Solution to Depression

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The omega-3s EPA and DHA lower depression and possibly dementia risk. Researchers at the College of Food Science and Technology in China reviewed the research on this topic. They state that these fats improve or prevent some psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases in both experimental and clinical studies. DHA and EPA are important membrane components that benefit brain health by modulating pathways involved in immunity and abnormal cell death. They also change membrane function or compete with omega-6 fats that are the building blocks of inflammatory mediators, thus potentially lowering the risk for dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. The best EPA:DHA ratio for improving brain disorders remains unclear. It is also unknown whether EPA, as a DHA precursor, acts directly or via DHA.

The omega-3 DHA helps lower depression risk, but how? Researchers at Columbia University in New York found that DHA supplementation reduces abnormalities in the brain’s white matter that otherwise are correlated with depression risk.

Song C, Shieh C, Wu Y, et al: The role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in the treatment of major depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Progress in Lipid Research 2016; January 4th.

Chhetry B, Hezghia M, Miller J, et al: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation and white matter changes in major depression. Journal of Psychiatric Research 2016; 75:65-74.

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