In an article published this month in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, researchers at Ohio State University report that supplemental omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) lower anxiety as well as reduce the stress-associated increase in pro-inflammatory molecules known as cytokines.
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and her colleagues divided 68 first and second year medical students (who experience significant levels of stress) to receive omega-3 fatty acids or a placebo. “The supplement was probably about four or five times the amount of fish oil you’d get from a daily serving of salmon, for example,” noted study coauthor and professor of human nutrition Martha Belury.
Blood samples were drawn at six time points over the course of the trial, and the participants were surveyed in order to determine levels of anxiety, depression or stress. Those who received omega-3 had a 20 percent reduction in anxiety compared to those who received the placebo, as well as lower amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines. “We took measurements of the cytokines in the blood serum, as well as measured the productivity of cells that produced two important cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa),” explained Ohio State professor of molecular virology, immunology & medical genetics Ron Glaser, PhD. “We saw a 14 percent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 among the students receiving the omega-3.”
"Anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases,” he added.
The study's results suggest that other human populations, such as the elderly and those at risk of specific diseases, could also benefit from the reduction in inflammation and stress that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation provides. While the researchers hesitated to recommend the use of omega-3 fatty acid capsules among the general public, some members of the team acknowledged that they personally use them.
Anxiety can occur independently or in conjunction with other psychiatric or medical conditions, such as depression, phobias, chronic fatigue, cardiac disease, or respiratory compromise. Moreover, chronic anxiety is associated with a higher risk of morbidity and mortality from cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, cardiac ischemia, and arrhythmias, and it predisposes people to a range of other disorders (Muller JE et al 2005; Weissman MM et al 1990; Coryell W 1986, 1988).
The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are necessary for proper brain function. In the typical Western diet, people often suffer from an increased ratio of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. It has been established that this imbalance can lead to a number of negative health problems.
Fortunately, the imbalance can be addressed easily by supplementing with EPA and DHA, which have been shown to have mood stabilizing effects and possibly other neuropsychiatric effects. In one multipart study that relied on both human student volunteers and animals, DHA was shown to reduce aggression and anxiety in both stressful and nonstressful settings (Hamazaki T et al 1999). Another human study showed that a mixture of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can reduce test-taking anxiety among students (Yehuda S et al 2005).
Life Extension Magazine is the monthly publication of the Life Extension Foundation®. Members of Life Extension® receive the magazine free in addition to their other membership benefits.
Life Extension is the first to report new discoveries involving nutrition, hormones, and anti-aging supplements, including such news-making items as CoQ10 and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, Life Extension reports innovative findings concerning the diseases that threaten many of us, such as atherosclerosis, cancer and diabetes. With each issue, subscribers to Life Extension Magazine receive potentially life-saving information they won’t find in most other publications.
*Offer valid on new (domestic) memberships only. Excludes existing customers.
Are women genetically programmed to develop weak, brittle bones? The answer is an emphatic "No!" Your Bones uncovers the real culprits responsible for the osteoporosis epidemic. It will not only teach you how to identify those factors in your life that are putting your bones at risk; it will also arm you with the cutting-edge information you need to prevent osteoporosis and maintain strong, healthy bones for life—naturally, relying on diet, supplements and exercise.
Lara Pizzorno, MA, LMT is the managing editor for Longevity Medicine Review and senior medical editor for SaluGenecists, Inc. She is coauthor of Natural Medicine Instructions for Patients, coauthor of The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, and editor of The World's Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating.
Cognitex Basics is a convenient and cost effective basic version of Life Extension's original Cognitex® formula. Although the original Cognitex represents the best cost per milligram value, Cognitex Basics supplies clinically evaluated doses of alpha-glyceryl phosphoryl choline (alpha-GPC) and phosphatidylserine, both of which are critical to proper neurotransmitter function and optimal cognitive health.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a crucial building block in the brain. In fact, brain tissues are especially rich in this nutrient. However, aging causes a decline in the PS content of cells throughout the body including brain cells, which can lead to cognitive decline. Cognitex Basics provides the same amounts of alpha-glyceryl phosphoryl choline and phosphatidylserine as the existing Cognitex products (per serving).
This supplement should be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise program. Individual results are not guaranteed and results may vary.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.
If you are not 100% satisfied with any purchase made directly from Life Extension®, just return your purchase within 12 months of original purchase date and we will either replace the product for you, credit your original payment method or credit your Life Extension account for the full amount of the original purchase price (less shipping and handling).
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.