Omega-3s and Depression

So far in my blogs, I have discussed reversible causes of depression, including MTHFR deficiency and vitamin D deficiency. Another nutritional deficiency that has been associated with depression is omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Omega 3 fats are found in fish, sea vegetables, nuts (especially walnuts), seeds (especially flaxseeds and chia seeds), and beans (especially soybeans.) Long chain omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA) have been found in hundreds of studies to be beneficial for so many common human conditions from depression, arthritis, eczema, and dry eyes, to heart disease and strokes.

So far in my blogs, I have discussed reversible causes of depression, including MTHFR deficiency and vitamin D deficiency. Another nutritional deficiency that has been associated with depression is omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Omega 3 fats are found in fish, sea vegetables, nuts (especially walnuts), seeds (especially flaxseeds and chia seeds), and beans (especially soybeans.) Long chain omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA) have been found in hundreds of studies to be beneficial for so many common human conditions from depression, arthritis, eczema, and dry eyes, to heart disease and strokes.

Short chain omega-3 fats (ALA) have only a very limited ability (5-10%) to be converted to the longer chain omega-3 fats. As a society, we eat very little fish (the highest source of long chain omega-3s), and omega-3 fat deficiency is likely epidemic. Testing for omega-3 levels is currently not standard. Most hospitals’ labs are not currently offering routine blood testing for omega-3 fats.


I recommend a minimum of 1,000mg/d of omega-3 fats for healthy individuals. For patients suffering from depression, I recommend doses ranging from 2,000 to 4,000mg/d. Studies utilizing the higher doses have shown the most benefit, with minimal side effects. In fact, since omega-3s are a necessary component of every cell in your body, most patients will report “side benefits” of taking omega-3 supplements. Not only is their depression improved, but their skin and eyes are less dry, and they usually report fewer aches and pains!

Note: Mercury is an issue in recommending eating more fish. The fish highest in omega-3 fats with lowest mercury levels include anchovies, herring, mackerel (Atlantic, NOT King or Spanish, from the Gulf of Mexico), sardines, trout, and salmon.

Will you ever feel comfortable in your own skin? That is, if you don't make an effort to protect it? Although 64% of adults do report wearing sunscreen when outside for prolonged periods of time, it turns out that only about 10% of people surveyed actually protect themselves daily, according to a recent review.

No matter what your skin tone is, unless you live in a cave with no sunlight, daily protection with either sunscreen, sunblock or protective clothing can not only protect you from developing sunburns (ouch!) but can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly the deadliest type called melanoma. In addition, for those of you wanting to keep your youthful looks, daily sunscreen has been shown to reduce the development of wrinkles. A great teacher once told me that the best way to not have wrinkles is not to get them in the first place (think of how much money you can save on useless creams that claim to diminish wrinkles).

Keep Reading Show less