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Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety

Observational studies have linked lower omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and higher omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs with inflammation and depression. Unfortunately, randomized controlled trial data have been mixed. To determine whether n-3 PUFA supplementation decreases proinflammatory molecule production and depressive and anxiety symptoms in healthy young adults, a placebo-controlled, double-blind 12-week randomized controlled trial was conducted that compared n-3 supplementation with placebo. Sixty eight medical students provided blood samples during lower-stress periods as well as on days before an exam. The students received either n-3 (2085 mg EPA and 348 mg DHA) or placebo capsules that mirrored the proportions of fatty acids in the typical American diet. Compared to controls, those students who received n-3 showed a 14% decrease in an inflammatory molecule called lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated interleukin 6 (IL-6) production. The students also experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms. Blood n-6:n-3 ratio showed that decreasing n-6:n-3 ratios led to lower anxiety and reductions in inflammatory molecules. These data suggest that n-3 supplementation can reduce inflammation and anxiety even among healthy young adults. The reduction in anxiety symptoms associated with n-3 supplementation provides the first evidence that n-3 may have potential anxiolytic benefits for individuals even without an anxiety disorder diagnosis. (Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Jul 19. PMID: 21784145).

Dr. Angela MacNeil

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