Dietary Nutritional Supplements Boost Antidepressants? Omega 3 Fish Oil Effective As Mood Enhancing Therapy, Finds Study

Alap Naik Desai - Author

Oct. 17 2017, Updated 4:59 a.m. ET

Antidepressants work better when they are taken alongside dietary nutritional supplements. Those suffering from depression could significantly benefit from regularly consuming Omega 3 fish oils, found a recently conducted study.

Four nutritional supplements could do wonders to those taking depression medications. In an international study conducted by the University of Melbourne, researchers and their colleagues from Harvard found how to boost the effectiveness of antidepressants. The findings are quite critical for a large number of people who regularly take medication to treat their depression but do not feel better.

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Millions of people around the world regularly take antidepressants. However, the reported effectiveness is only 50 percent, reportedABC News. In other words, about half of the people who take the medicines meant to alleviate their depression report the medication doesn’t work or works with only marginal effectiveness.

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The researchers conducted a detailed statistical analysis of over 40 studies and all of the literature dating back to the 1960s about using nutrient supplements, known as nutraceuticals, to treat depression in tandem with antidepressants, and realized there’s a strong relation between antidepressants and fish oils as well as daily dietary supplements. The findings have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Researchers found four nutritional supplements, omega 3 fish oils, methylfolate, vitamin D, and a compound called SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) were all helpful in boosting the effectiveness of the medicines that are normally prescribed to patients suffering from depression. Surprisingly, researchers discovered that these supplements can also be used as a mood-enhancing therapy when taken with antidepressants, reportedFirst Post.

Interestingly, off all the supplements, fish oils, which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acid, were found to be statistically the best, reported the Times of India. Omega 3 even had a significant effect over a placebo, shared lead author Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne in Australia.

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“The strongest finding from our review was that Omega 3 fish oil — in combination with antidepressants — had a statistically significant effect over a placebo. The difference for patients taking both antidepressants and Omega 3, compared to a placebo, was highly significant. This is an exciting finding because here we have a safe, evidence-based approach that could be considered a mainstream treatment.

“Medical practitioners are aware of the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, but are probably unaware that one can combine them with antidepressant medication for a potentially better outcome. The take-home message for the public is that if they aren’t responding to their anti-depressant medication that there are additional approaches that they can look at to potentially improve the response to their medication.”

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Despite the discovered benefits, Sarris added a note of caution.

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“We know the data [is] that [with] first-line anti-depressant use and even second-line [anti-depressant use] you’ve still got 50 per cent of people who aren’t in remission. We’re not suggesting that always this is the first-line approach. But we’re suggesting that this gives another potential option for the medical practitioner to consider an evidence-based approach.

“We always have to be mindful that we’re not recommending people go out and take supplements willy nilly. We’re not telling people to rush out and buy buckets of supplements. Always speak to your medical professional before changing or initiating a treatment.”

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The study essentially suggests that intake of dietary supplements, most notably Omega 3 fish oils, could enhance the efficacy of antidepressants in various ways, perhaps directly by altering neurotransmitter activity or indirectly by reducing inflammation, known to contribute to depression, reportedScientific American.

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Incidentally, the researchers indicated other supplements like zinc, vitamin C, and tryptophan (an amino acid) didn’t help much and neither did folic acid or inositol.

[Photo by Nicholas Eveleigh/Getty Images]


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