Omega-3 lowers inflammation and stress in body and mind

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A high daily dose of an omega-3 supplement may reduce stress-related inflammation and help slow the effects of ageing, new research suggests. The fatty acids have been found to suppress damage and boost protection at the cellular level during and after a stressful event.

The volunteers in this new research were 138 healthy but sedentary, overweight and middle-aged adults. They received either omega-3 or a placebo for four months.

Key findings

  • Daily supplements that contained 2.5g of omega-3 (the highest dose tested) were the best at helping the body resist the damaging effects of stress;
  • Compared to the placebo group, participants taking omega-3 produced less stress hormone cortisol and lower levels of inflammatory protein (interleukin-10) during a stressful event in the lab;
  • Levels of protective compounds sharply declined in the placebo group after the stressor, but there were no such decreases in people taking omega-3.

“The findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation is one relatively simple change people could make that could have a positive effect at breaking the chain between stress and negative health effects,” comments Annelise Madison in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Previous research suggests that people with a higher inflammatory reaction to a stressor in the lab may develop more depressive symptoms over time. So the research team hopes that by lowering stress-related inflammation, omega-3 may help disrupt the connection between repeated stress and depressive symptoms.

Omega 3 is a key supplement for arthritis, other research suggests, slowing arthritis progression, reducing gout flares and lupus activity. Click here for more.

As well as a supplement, omega 3 intake can be increased via diet in the form of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, nuts, seeds and plant oils.

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