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Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Patients with Anxiety?

Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Patients with Anxiety?
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Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega-3-PUFA) consumption has been linked to reduced inflammation, a lower risk for heart attack and stroke, and even improved outcomes for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Here’s a benefit that may come as a surprise: ANXIETY relief!

Anxiety is the most commonly experienced psychiatric symptom, and it’s reported that it will affect one in three individuals in their lifetime. Anxiety is characterized as an inappropriate or exaggerated fear leading to distress and impairment and is often accompanied with other psychological disorders, including depression, and is associated with a lower health-related quality of life and increased risk of all-cause mortality.

Classic treatment options include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacological treatments, mainly with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. A common problem with treatment is potential medication side-effects (sedation and/or drug dependence), as well as time-consumption and cost factors. This often leads to a reluctance to engage in treatment, which is why these findings regarding a nutritional approach to managing anxiety are so important.

In a recent meta-analysis of data from 19 clinical trials that involved 2,240 participants from 11 countries, researchers uncovered evidence that participants who consumed omega-3 fatty acid supplements reported significant clinical improvements in anxiety signs and symptoms.

Interestingly, the researchers noted that the anti-anxiety benefits of omega-3-PUFAs were stronger in those with clinical anxiety compared with those whose conditions were classified as subclinical or borderline. The research team also observed that participants who were given a higher dose (>2000 mg/day) obtained the best anti-anxiety benefits.

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin”, has also been found to improve mood, especially during the winter months. Moreover, people with low vitamin D levels (70% of Americans) may be more likely to experience anxiety.

Hence, a combined daily supplement of >2000 mg of omega-3-PUFAs AND 2000-5000 mg of vitamin D may help manage anxiety signs and symptoms.