Medication Monday: Omega – 3’s

Welcome to a new week and a new Medication Monday. This Monday we are continuing with the theme from last week of dietary supplements. This week we are talking about Omega – 3 fatty acids.

As with B-12, evidence suggests that omega – 3 acids, often found in seafood-heavy diets or fish oil capsules, may have positive impacts on depression, the depressive side of bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. However, it is important to note that while the studies that have been done appear positive, more research is still needed.

The thought that omega – 3 fatty acids might help reduce the prevalence and severity of depression started with an observation that cultures with seafood-heavy diets seemed to have lower rates of depression. While this could be due to a variety of cultural or socio-economic reasons, investigating omega – 3’s is a reasonable road of inquiry to take, and one that several mental health professionals seem to swear by.

It is unclear how omega – 3’s might improve mood disorders. One thought is that they easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier and act in a positive way on neurochemicals. While it is known that omega – 3’s are good for heart health, the knowledge of other impacts that might exist seems limited. As for side effects, there are a few, including an upset stomach for some and fishy breath.

If you are taking it as a supplement, the source I found suggested between 1 and 10 g a day but notes that other studies used 1 to 2 g. The difference in possible doses highlights the fact that different people respond to these supplements differently, and that more research is still needed. Put another way, it could help, but don’t expect it to be a miracle cure.

You should also discuss any dietary supplements you are thinking about taking with your doctor. As I always remind readers, Medication Monday is not meant as a substitute for medical advice, merely as a brief informative tool to help you be more prepared when you do talk to your doctor. Hopefully, this post has done that while also possibly suggesting some alternatives to prescription medications.

And as always, thanks for reading.

 

Source: Harvard Health Blog – Omega – 3 Fatty Acids for Mood Disorders 

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