Researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, in New York City, used a meta-analysis to test the hypothesis that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is the effective component in omega-3 fatty acid treatment of major depressive episodes.

First, the details.

  • 15 studies involving 916 participants were included.
  • A depressive episode was the primary complaint (with or without comorbid medical conditions).

And, the results.

  • Supplements containing at least 60% EPA showed significant benefit on depression scores vs supplements with less than 60% EPA.
    • Treatment duration or patient age did not affect the results.
  • Supplements with EPA less than 60% were ineffective.
  • Improvement was associated with a dose of EPA that was greater than docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), within the range of 200 to 2,200 mg/day of EPA.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Supplements containing EPA at least 60% of total EPA + DHA, in a dose range of 200 to 2,200 mg/d of EPA in excess of DHA, were effective against primary depression.

So, now you have guidelines for selecting an omega-3 supplement.

10/27/11 20:18 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.