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The health benefits of fish oil supplements have been getting a lot of attention in the news lately. In addition to helping to ward off heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease, the omega-3 fatty acids that are plentiful in many fish oils are believed to have the potential to ease the symptoms of mild to moderate depression in certain individuals.

While these findings are still preliminary, some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can enhance brain function. Specifically, some people who are diagnosed with depression are found to have low levels of certain brain chemicals, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, both of which are found in fish oil. Dietary supplements of these healthy fats in the form of fish oil can be a natural and effective way to enhance emotional well-being.

Of course, in most situations, the best way to provide the body with adequate amounts of the essential nutrients it needs is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. For instance, eating just a few servings of fish each week can help ensure a sufficient intake of EPA and DHA. Some good choices include:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Albacore tuna

However, research shows that mercury tends to accumulate in the meat of certain fish, such as canned white tuna, but not in fish oil. Therefore, anyone who is concerned about mercury exposure, including women who are pregnant or nursing, should consider taking supplements if they are interested in using fish oil to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

It’s important to note that fish oil is not considered to be a replacement for traditional depression treatments, such as medications and therapy. However, when used in accordance with a physician’s instructions, some people find it to be helpful as a complementary treatment.

If you are affected by cancer and experiencing signs of depression, you can speak with an expert at Moffitt Cancer Center without a referral. To get started, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete our new patient registration form online.