With all the foods, vitamins, supplements and pills available in the world, it’s hard to keep track of what helps your mental health the best. It’s important to get a variety of nutrients, and omega-3, a type of fatty acid, is especially known for its mental health benefits.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website, humans need omega-3 fatty acids to survive, but since the body doesn’t make them they have to be found in food or supplements.
“Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils,” according to the website.
Omega-3 is important for brain function and can help prevent certain health conditions like cancer and heart disease, according to the website.
“Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function,” the website states. When there are deficits in this fatty acid, then some mental health and general health issues can occur, like depression, fatigue and heart issues.
Trudy Scott, the president of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, a nutritionist and author, said in an email that there are different studies supporting omega-3’s link to mental health, including depression and anxiety specifically.
“Given the link between anxiety and depression, it’s likely that seafood consumption could also help reduce the incidence of anxiety,” Scott said. “Other sources of omega-3s are walnuts, grass-fed red meat, leafy green vegetables, and flaxseeds.”
A study in Finland in 2001 demonstrated that the more fish people eat, the less depressed they are.
“Several studies have reported depletions of omega-3 fats among depressed patients, and a cross-national comparison has revealed a significant inverse correlation between annual prevalence of major depression and fish consumption,” according to a study summary on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website.
“The likelihood of having depressive symptoms was significantly higher among infrequent fish consumers than among frequent consumers.”