In my last health alert, I told you about vitamin D's ability to beat depression.  Today, I'm going to tell you about another cause of depression.  Two new studies show that the type of fatty acids you eat greatly affects your mood.

A small study followed 33 subjects with depression. None of them were on drugs. The researchers measured fatty acids in their blood. They found that low levels of the omega-3 fats and/or high levels of omega-6 fats were predictors of attempted suicide!

A second study echoed the findings of the first.  In that study, researchers gave children omega-3 supplements for just one month. The supplements caused a 50% reduction in depression scores in 7 of the 10 children! Also, four of the omega-3 supplemented group achieved a full remission.

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This makes sense. Your brain is 70% fat. And the type of fat getting into your brain determines how well it performs.

Omega-3 fats include things like fish oil and flax oil.  And omega-6s include corn oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil.  If you get too many omega-6s, like most Americans do, the fats can become toxic to your brain. 

The right balance of omega-6s to omega-3s is 4to 1. But most people have a ratio of 16 to 1 or more!  That means they're getting four times too many omega-6s!

So how can you reduce your intake of omega-6s? Start by cutting down on fried foods and anything made from corn, especially corn oil. Other oils to avoid include safflower, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed.  Make sure you read the labels on packaged foods like breads and crackers to see which oils they use.

I know for many people, cutting out these foods entirely isn't practical. So to get your fatty acid ratio closer to 4:1, you can also add substantially more omega-3s to your diet. The easiest way to do this is to take a fish oil or flaxseed supplement. Some of the best products, such as those contained in Healthy Resolve's Max Plus, , contain both of these and other great omega-3s.

In my practice, I recommend omega-3 oil to most everyone with depression. If you want to be totally accurate and scientific, you can ask your integrative physician to perform a fatty acid analysis on your blood. It's pricey, but a lot cheaper when it successfully finds the cause of your depression. Then a simple nutrient can fix it.

Ref: Am J Psychiatry, 2006; 163(6): 1100-2; Am J Psychiatry, 2006; 163(6): 1098-100.


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