As reported on The Huffington Post, actor-comedian Robin Williams suffered from depression, anxiety, and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease prior to his untimely suicide earlier this week. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may effectively alleviate depression without the dangerous side effects of antidepressant drugs.
According to the latest (2011) figures published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 39,000 Americans die by suicide every year and over 60 percent of all those who die by suicide suffer from major depression. More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (17 million) or cancer (12 million). In the United States, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 15 and 64 years (Williams was 63). Moreover, 90 percent of Americans who die by suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
Omega-3 fats are part of a group of essential fatty acids that must be obtained from dietary sources, as the body cannot synthesize them internally. In a report published by Life Extension Magazine in October 2007, a Norwegian study of nearly 22,000 participants revealed that those who regularly took cod liver oil (a rich source of omega-3 fats) were about 30% less likely to have symptoms of depression than those who did not. In another clinical study, subjects (including those already taking antidepressants) who were given omega-3 fatty acids saw their depression symptoms reduced, on average, by about 50 percent, according to Joseph Hibbeln, a psychiatrist at the National Institutes for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids found in omega-3 fish oils boost the immune system and help fight depression anxiety by reducing inflammation in the body and brain. As a point of reference, the standard American diet is heavily skewed toward consumption of omega-6 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils like corn and soy. In contrast to omega-3s, omega-6 fats are highly inflammatory.
The aforementioned Life Extension report referenced a study that included 18 healthy men and 34 men who suffered from alcoholism, depression, or both; subjects with lower level of omega-3s were found to have a higher level of neuroactive steroids, which have been implicated in several disease processes involving the nervous system and brain.
According to an abstract posted on PubMed in 2002, several sources suggest that humans evolved on a diet where their intake of both types of fatty acids was about equal, whereas, the typical Western diet favors omega-6 fats by a factor of 15 to 1 or more. An imbalanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio could be seen as a warning sign that ends up manifesting as a major health problem in the form of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or asthma.
Besides fish, foods naturally endowed with omega-3 fats include beef, nuts, and seeds such as chia and flax. The omega-3 in seeds is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which the body can convert into small amounts of EPA and DHA. As noted on Wikipedia and other websites, ALA is susceptible to oxidation and will become rancid more quickly than many other oils. Chickens fed flaxseeds and fish meal will produce eggs containing omega-3. Cereals made with flaxseed also contain omega-3, while grass-fed beef contains twice as much omega-3 as corn-fed beef.
CLICK HERE if you need to increase the amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids that you’re getting from your current diet.
Robin Williams Had Parkinson’s Disease, Wife Reveals In Touching Statement
The Huffington Post | By Stephanie Marcus
Aug 14, 2014
Facts About Suicide and Depression
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Fighting Depression and Improving Cognition with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
By Laurie Barclay, MD | October 2007
Life Extension Magazine
Omega 3 Supplement for Depression Anxiety
Depression Anxiety Diet
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