By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Omega 3 fatty acids may reduce depression, body fat
In recent years, scientists have discovered that chemical balances in the brain influence depression.
Some antidepressant drugs, for example, modify the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin, helping to improve mood. New research has shown that the composition of fatty acids, in the diet can have an effect on brain-receptor function and signal transmission, suggesting that the amount and types of fat eaten can affect vitality and happiness.
A team of researchers at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands, looked at the association between depression and the fatty-acid composition of blood plasma in 264 subjects with depressive symptoms and 461 randomly selected reference subjects who screened negative for depression.
After an overnight fast, all of the participants had their blood drawn, which was then analyzed for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and for C-reactive protein (an indicator of immune response).
The Dutch scientists found a correlation between the intake of fatty acids and depressive disorders in the elderly. As the amount of omega-3 fatty acids increased in the participants’ diets, the incidence of depression declined.
Moreover, the strength of this association grew as C-reactive protein levels dropped. The healthier you are, the more your dietary choices influence your frame of mind. While it ha s been known for some time that eating cold-water fish and taking fish-oil capsules are good for the heart, it now appears that consuming more omega-3’s can make one happier as well.
Since its introduction in 1996, conjugated linoleic acid has become an enormously popular supplement to help control excess body fat.
A review of previously published scientific studies shows that CLA reduces body fat while increasing lean muscle mass when used in conjunction with reduced calorie intake and an increase in physical activity.
Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation reduced body fat mass in healthy, overweight adults. CLA is a mixture of linoleic acid isomers with conjugated double bonds.
CLA was first identified when extracts from fired beef were found to be anti-carcinogenic.
Short term trials showed that CLA may reduce body fat mass and increase lean body mass.
To determine the effect during one year of CLA on body composition and safety in healthy overweight adults, 180 volunteers with body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30 kg/m2 were given a liberal diet and randomized to supplementation with CLA-free fatty acid (FFA), or olive-oil placebo.
Compared to the placebo group, mean body fat mass was lower in the CLA group. Lean body mass was greater in the CLA group than in the placebo group. These changes were not associated with diet or exercise.
CLA-supplemented subjects reduced body fat by 9 percent and increased lean muscle by 2 percent.
This study confirmed a reduction in total body weight in addition to body fat percentage. Analyses of blood tests showed no side effects over this one-year period.