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Woman takes Omega-3's to combat depression

In the News: Omega-3s May Have Antidepressant Effects

EPA in omega-3 improves depression scores; vitamin E reduces rheumatoid arthritis symptoms; vitamin D lowers risk of suicide in military veterans; green tea improves indicators of fat-tissue health.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023.

Omega-3s May Have Antidepressant Effects

The omega-3 fatty acid EPA has shown benefits for people with depression, a study in Neuropsychopharmacology reported.*

Chronic inflammation has been linked to the pathophysiology of depressive dis- orders. The study included 45 people with major depressive disorder and high C-reactive protein. Depression symptoms were assessed using the IDS-C30 scale.

Participants received either one, two, or four grams of EPA or a placebo. Plasma omega-3 fatty acids, pro-resolving medi- ators (SPMSs), and other factors were assessed before and after the 12-week treatment period.

After 12 weeks there was a 50% reduction in depression scores in the group that received 4 grams of EPA, compared to a low dose or placebo. The high-dose group also had greater increases in the pro-resolving mediators 18-HEPE and 13-HDHA and had significant reductions in C-reactive protein blood levels.

Editor's Note: Higher levels of the omega-3 me- tabolites 18-HEPE and 13-HDHA were associated with reduced systemic inflammation and depression symptoms. “This highlights the activation of the resolution of inflammation as a likely mechanism in the treatment of major depressive disorder with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation,” the authors concluded.

When treating patients with depression, physi- cians may consider ordering C-reactive protein blood tests to identify those most in need of higher- dose omega-3 intake.

* Neuropsychopharmacology 48; pages 929–935.

Vitamin E Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Supplementing with vitamin E helped reduce joint discomfort, water retention, and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis, according to the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.*

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint stiffness, pain, and other complications, including cardiovascular disease. Researchers selected nine trials that included a total of 39,845 rheumatoid arthritis patients. The trials compared the effects of vitamin E to placebo, other treatments, or external therapy.

Participants who received vitamin E experienced significantly greater improvements in joint comfort, tenderness, and swelling than those in the control group.

Editor's Note: "Vitamin E supplements used on a regular basis can help individuals with RA reduce joint discomfort, edema, and stiffness, as well as enhance their overall quality of life," the authors concluded.

* Eur J Clin Nutr. 2023 Feb;77(2):166-172.

Supplementing with Vitamin D Lowers Risk of Suicide in Military Veterans

A study of U.S. military veterans found a lower risk of suicide and self-harm among those who supplemented with vitamin D, compared with those who did not, according to a study published in PLoS One.*

Information was analyzed from the Veterans Administration's Corporate Data Warehouse for this retrospect cohort study, which included men and women treated with and without vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 from 2010 to 2018. The study compared 169,241 veterans who were prescribed vitamin D2, and 490,885 veterans treated with vitamin D3, with an equal number of control subjects who received neither vitamin.

The researchers found a 45% lower risk of suicide attempts or self-harm among vitamin D2 users and a 48% lower risk among those prescribed vitamin D3 compared to veterans who used no vitamin D supplements.

Editor's Note: "As a relatively safe, easily accessible, and affordable medication, supplementation with vitamin D in the VA may hold promise if confirmed in clinical trials to prevent suicide attempts and suicide," according to the researchers.

* PLoS One. 2023 Feb 1;18(2):e0279166.

Green Tea May Improve Fat Tissue Dysfunction

Women who consumed green tea extract daily showed improvements in their fat tissue, according to a clinical trial reported in the journal Nutrients.*

In a trial of 28 overweight or obese postmenopausal women, study sub- jects were randomized to receive 150 mg of green tea extract or a placebo daily. The extract contained between 19% and 25% catechins and at least 13% EGCG (the major catechin in green tea).

At the end of the 60-day trial women who consumed the green tea extract had improvements in indicators of adipose (fat tissue) health, including metabolic health markers, compared to the placebo group.

They also showed improvements in insulin and insulin resistance, waist circumference, and C-reactive pro- tein, a marker of inflammation.

Editor's Note: Increased fat deposited around the abdominal organs secrete proinflammatory chemicals, increasing the risk of metabolic disorders.

* Nutrients. 2022 Dec; 14(24): 5209.