Anxiety (Panic)/DepressionOmega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish consumption, omega-3, and the risk of depression

The evidence is conflicting.

So, researchers from the National Institute for Health and Welfare, in Kuopio, Finland surveyed their countrymen.

First, the details.

  • Researchers used data from 6757 people in the nationwide Health 2000 Survey and the Fishermen Study on Finnish professional fishermen and their family members.
  • Data were based on questionnaires, interviews, health examinations, and blood samples.
  • Depressive episodes were assessed with the M-CIDI (the Munich version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview) and a self-report of 2 CIDI probe questions, respectively.
  • Fish consumption was measured by a food frequency questionnaire.
  • Dietary intake (g/day) and blood levels (% from fatty acids) of omega-3 fatty acids were determined.

And, the results.

  • Fish consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive episodes in men but not in women.
    • Depressive episodes decreased significantly from 9% to 5% from greatest to least fish consumption (g/day) in men of the Health 2000 Survey.
    • And significantly from 7% to 3% across the quartiles of fish consumption (times/month) among men in the Fishermen Study.
  • Alcohol, occasional or former smokers, or intermediate physical activity further lowered the prevalence of depression.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “In men, fish consumption appears as a surrogate for underlying but unidentified lifestyle factors that protect against depression.”

5/19/10 19:16 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.