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OMeGa-3 Fatty Acids

Posted by James on 06/23/2018 | Comment

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, vital for normal body functioning. The three most important types are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These essential fatty acids have an array of health benefits and are considered by many investigators to be beneficial in the prevention or treatment of several diseases, such as heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammatory disease, eye disease, and bone disease. Other health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include…

1. Reducing waist circumference
2. Maintaining healthy skin
3. Lowering the risk of cancer
4. Encouraging early growth and development
5. Reducing the risk of childhood asthma and allergies

…and the list goes on and on and on…

Although omega-3 fatty acids are popularly known for their heart-healthy benefits, growing evidence suggests they can also serve as a potential treatment for major depressive disorder. Taking a closer look at omega-3 supplementation in pediatric populations, multiple randomized controlled trials suggest its positive role on children and adolescents with mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar disorder, or on children at ultra-high-risk for psychosis. Key findings are highlighted below:

1. Decreased impairment in executive functioning* was associated with omega-3 supplementation in youth with mood disorders (Vesco, 2018)
2. Data suggests a lower dietary intake with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in those with depression (Sweene, 2011)
3. n-6 to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio is associated with an increased risk for mood disorders in young people exhibiting an ultra-high-risk for psychosis (Berger, 2017)
4. Combined psychoeducational psychotherapy** and omega-3 supplementation is a promising treatment for co-occurring behavior symptoms in youth with depression (Young, 2016)

* Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior
**Psychoeducational psychotherapy is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention often associated with serious mental illness

Excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring, Pacific oysters, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel, algae, and krill.

Excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring, Pacific oysters, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel, algae, and krill.

Recipe Alert! If you are looking for a summery, savory, salmon recipe, try Chili Lime Salmon with Peach Salsa from The Real Food Dietitians.

Aside from seafood, other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

1. Certain plant and nut oils
2. Flax, chia, hemp seeds
3. Walnuts
4. Wheat germ
5. Fortified foods such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas

While we’d love have a perfectly balanced diet, sometimes life gets in the way and we need help to get the nutrients our bodies need. This is where supplements can make a huge difference.

Although seafood is an excellent source of omega-3, not everyone loves seafood, or gets enough of it in their diet. A great alternative, or in addition, to seafood, is omega-3 supplementation. It is important to find a high quality, potent omega-3 supplement—and unlike many other omega-3 supplements, Health Thru Nutrition’s Highly Purified Omega 3 Premium Fish Oil offers such potency and purity our bodies need.


Cornu C, Mercier C, Ginhoux, T et al. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial of omega-3 supplementation in children with moderate ADHD symptoms. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2018; 27: 377-384.

Berger ME, Smesny S, Kim S-W, et al. Omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio and subsequent mood disorders in young people with at-risk mental states: a 7-year longitudinal study. Translational Psychiatry 2017; 7(8).

Young A. Psychoeducational Psychotherapy and Omega-3 Supplementation Improve Co-Occurring Behavioral Problems in Youth with Depression: Results from a Pilot RCT. Journal of abnormal child psychology 2017; 45: 1025-1037.

Vesco AT, Lehmann J, Gracious BL, Arnold LE, Young AS, Fristad MA. Omega-3 Supplementation for Psychotic Mania and Comorbid Anxiety in Children. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology 2015; 25(7): 526-534.

Lopresti AL. A review of nutrient treatments for paediatric depression. Journal of Affective Disorders (2015); 181: 24-32.

Swenne I, Rosling A, Tengblad S, Vessby B. Omega‐3 polyunsaturated essential fatty acids are associated with depression in adolescents with eating disorders and weight loss. Acta Paediatrica 2011; 100: 1610-1615.

Mocking RJ, Harmsen I, Assies J, Koeter MW, Ruhé HG, Schene AH. Meta-analysis and meta-regression of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for major depressive disorder. Transl Psychiatry 2016.

Appleton KM, Sallis HM, Perry R, Ness AR, Churchill R. ω-3 Fatty acids for major depressive disorder in adults: an abridged Cochrane review. BMJ Open 2016; 7(1).

Appleton KM, Sallis HM, Perry R, Ness AR, Churchill R. Omega-3 fatty acids for depression in adults. Conchrane Database Syst Rev 2015; 11.

Vesco AT, Young AS, Arnold LE, Fristad, MA. Omega-3 supplementation associated with improved parent-rated executive function in youth with mood disorders: secondary analyses of the omega 3 and therapy (OATS) trials. J Child Psychol Psychiatr 2018; 59(6): 628-636.

Stonehouse W, Conlon CA, Podd J, Hill SR, Minihane AM, Haskell C, Kennedy D. DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 97(5): 1134-1143.

Written by Nicole Lindel, MS in Nutrition Education from Columbia University