Omega-3 fats found in oily fish and nuts have little or no effect on reducing anxiety and depression

  • Omega-3 fats are touted for their purported power in alleviating mental health problems
  • Scientists at the University of East Anglia in Norwich are calling for a serious rethink
  • They examined the results of 31 clinical studies in which omega-3 intake was increased
  • The risk of depression decreased by just one percent after consuming it

Eating fatty fish and nuts does not have any positive effects on your mental health. This is evident from research that exposes preconceived wisdom.

Omega-3 fats are advertised worldwide for their purported ability to relieve anxiety and depression.

However, scientists at the University of East Anglia are pushing for a thorough overhaul after reviewing 31 clinical studies.

They found that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of depression by only one percent and are just as insignificant for anxiety.

Omega-3 fats are advertised worldwide for their purported ability to relieve anxiety and depression (file photo)

More than 41,000 participants took part in the studies, who were divided into two groups.

The first increased their omega-3 intake through fish oil supplements and the others maintained their usual consumption.

After a period of 24 weeks, changes in their mental health were recorded using questionnaires either through “primary” indicators such as a diagnosis of depression or through “secondary” indicators such as quality of life, care stress and self-harm.



Both omega-3 and cod liver oil capsules contain the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA.


Cod liver oil capsules also contain high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D. Due to the high vitamin A level, cod liver oil capsules are not recommended for pregnant women as too much vitamin A can be harmful to their baby.


Krill oil is extracted from a shrimp-like Antarctic crustacean. It’s a rich source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, and DHA. It also contains two powerful antioxidants, astaxanthin and canthaxanthin, which give it an attractive red color.

These pigments come from the algae that krill feed on and are the same pigments that give flamingos their pink plumage.

The combination of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants makes krill a popular “super supplement” for reducing inflammation and having a positive effect on the cholesterol balance.

The study concluded that while omega-3 fats are good for health, they have no noticeable effects on depression and anxiety.

Only one of the clinical studies provided data on the correlation between omega-3 fatty acids and anxiety and recorded a change of zero percent.

The lead author Dr. Lee Hooper has urged doctors to stop recommending omega-3 fats for depression and anxiety sufferers.

He said, ‘This great systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods of time.

‘Despite all this information, we do not see any protective effect.

“The most trusted studies have consistently shown that long-chain omega-3 fats have little or no effect on depression or anxiety, and should not be encouraged for treatment.”

Dr. Katherine Deane, co-author of the UEA’s School of Health Sciences, said, “Oily fish can be a very nutritious food as part of a balanced diet.

“However, we have found that people who take omega-3 oil supplements to prevent or treat depression and anxiety have no demonstrable value.

“Given the environmental concerns of industrial fishing and the impact on fish stocks and plastic pollution in the oceans, it does not seem helpful to keep swallowing fish oil tablets that are of no use.”

The study was funded by the World Health Organization and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

In 2016, researchers from Melbourne University and Harvard suggested that omega-3 fatty acid intake when combined with antidepressants significantly improved mood versus a placebo.

They argued that since omega-3 fatty acids can easily travel across the brain cell membrane, they could interact with mood-related molecules in the brain.

The fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory effects, which researchers believed could also help relieve depression.



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