Gill Stannard

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The good oil on depression

Sydney’s Black Dog Institute has released a review of studies into Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders. The conclusion is there is significant evidence that a lack of eicosapentanenoic acid (EPA) and eicosapentanenoic acid (DHA) can contribute to depression and bipolar disorders.

Read the full report or a summary at the institute’s website.


The body can’t easily manufacture Omega-3 fatty acids so it is important to make sure the following foods are eaten regularly. If your diet is low in these or you have depression, heart disease, dysfunctional sperm production, PMS or skin problems (to name but a few) a supplement would be worth taking.

Fish is one of the richest sources of EPA and DHA, including good old fashioned cod liver oil.

Some really important information about vegetarian sources of Omega-3 fatty acid
Plant foods like flaxseeds and walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - which was not the focus of the study. An important fact often gets missed in any discussions about plant oils. The body needs to convert ALA to EPA and DHA to get the benefits and this does not always occur. In fact if it doesn’t, there is a risk of the body using the ALA to form chemicals that create inflammation (the opposite of what you want to happen).

Some co-factors that help the positive conversion process include VitaminsB3, B6, C as well as magnesium and zinc. I’d strongly recommend you take a supplement of these eg: a good multivitamin that includes 50mg of B6, plus about 500mg of vitamin C .

* never eat an oil that smells rancid (bitter tasting or off smelling).


Anonymous said...

Lots info about the benefits of fish in one's diet, but do the benefits outweigh the risks due to mercury contamination??

Gill Stannard Naturopath said...

Good question. I usually recommend small fish like sardines and mackerel over tuna and other large, mercury accumulating fish. Australians tend to think salmon and tuna are the only fish to eat and both are potentially problematic.