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Omega-3s Help Combat Depression

Researchers say they've discovered that fish, more specifically fish oil, containing omega-3 fatty acids is an effective antidepressant. Scientists first became interested in omega-3s when they found that countries that consumed the most fish had the fewest cases of depression. Mothers in England who ate very little fish during pregnancy doubled their risk of developing postpartum depression compared to women who ate fish regularly.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated oils the body cannot create and are derived mostly from seafood. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the fatty acid with the most direct influence on brain development.

Researchers have discovered that omega-3 fatty acids raised levels of the critical neurotransmitter seratonin in the brains of piglets, an effect identical to that of Prozac®.

"DHA is highly concentrated in the brain right where the neurons communicate with each other and all the signals pass back and forth," said Dr Joseph Hibbeln, a senior clinical investigator at the Nation Insttute of Health. "The DHA from omega-3 makes up the walls of neurons. The body cannot manufacture DHA so is has to get it from our diet."

Jim LaBonte of Boston, diagnosed with depression four years ago, had tried Prozac® but said the drug left him with no emotions, so he stopped taking it. Then he enrolled in a clinical trial that Massachusetts General Hospital. La Bonte took the omega-3 fatty acid DHA each day. Within three weeks, he said, he noticed a significant improvement. He has now been taking DHA for eight months.

"I'm fine today," says LaBonte. "Not only do I not feel as blue, but when they [depressed feelings] do come, I am able to handle it."

Sheffield University, England - Dr Malcolm Peet gave omega-3 fatty acids to 70 depressed patients who were not helped by drugs such as Prozac®. After 12 weeks, 69 percent showed marked improvement compared with only 25 percent that were given placebos.

Preliminary studies suggest one gram per day of omega-3 faty acids can be an effective treatment, whether in the form of a nutritional supplement available at most health stores, or simply by eating fish - especially salmon, sardines, or tuna - several times a week.

Researchers say much larger studies are needed to follow up on the initial success of omega-3 trials not only against depression, but also in treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and violent behavior.

ALTRUM Nutritional Oils is an all-in-one essential fatty acid (EFA) formula providing three key omega-3s: EPA, DHA, and ALA. Studies suggest these EFAs fight depression and improve health.

* ALTRUM products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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