Brain, Behavior, and Immunity- July 2011
Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial
Janice K. Kiecolt-Glasera, Martha A. Beluryc, Rebecca Andridged, William B. Malarkeya, and Ronald Glasera,
Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State University College of Medicine, OH, USA
Department of Psychiatry, Ohio State University College of Medicine, OH, USA
Department of Human Nutrition, Ohio State University, OH, USA
Division of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, Ohio State University, OH, USA
Department of Internal Medicine, Ohio State University College of Medicine, OH, USA
Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics, Ohio State University College of Medicine, OH, USA
Available online 19 July 2011-Link to Abstract
“The reduction in anxiety symptoms associated with n-3 supplementation provides the first evidence that n-3 may have potential anxiolytic benefits for individuals without an anxiety disorder diagnosis.”
“So our findings could possibly be much more significant in a group that was older and had more health problems.”
“Chronic inflammation has been linked to a broad spectrum of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis,” write the researchers.
“Large population studies suggest that greater fish consumption may help control or protect against the onset of these and other inflammatory conditions,”
Observational studies have linked lower omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and higher omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs with inflammation and depression, but randomized controlled trial (RCT) data have been mixed.
To determine whether n-3 decreases proinflammatory cytokine production and depressive and anxiety symptoms in healthy young adults, this parallel group, placebo-controlled, double-blind 12-week RCT compared n-3 supplementation with placebo.
The participants, 68 medical students, provided serial blood samples during lower-stress periods as well as on days before an exam.
The students received either n-3 (2.5 g/d, 2085 mg eicosapentaenoic acid and 348 mg docosahexanoic acid) or placebo capsules that mirrored the proportions of fatty acids in the typical American diet. Compared to controls, those students who received n-3 showed a 14% decrease in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated interleukin 6 (IL-6) production and a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms, without significant change in depressive symptoms.
Individuals differ in absorption and metabolism of n-3 PUFA supplements, as well as in adherence; accordingly, planned secondary analyses that used the plasma n-6:n-3 ratio in place of treatment group showed that decreasing n-6:n-3 ratios led to lower anxiety and reductions in stimulated IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production, as well as marginal differences in serum TNF-α.
These data suggest that n-3 supplementation can reduce inflammation and anxiety even among healthy young adults.
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