Research has shown an association between the intake of omega-3 and anxiety. The study revealed a noticeable reduction in anxiety in a group of healthy young individuals when consumption of fish oil was increased. Omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) have long been regarded as beneficial additives to the diet. Prior research indicated that DHA and EPA could be involved in the reduction of inflammation promoting compounds known as cytokines in the body, and maybe also reduces depression.
Psychological stress has time after time been found to increase cytokine production and so the researchers considered if the increase of omega-3 could lessen that process, reducing inflammation. To test their theory, they made use of medical students as research subjects who are usually subjected to stress when performing important medical school tests. The researchers theorized that giving certain students omega-3 supplements would reduce their cytokine production, in comparison to other students who had been given a placebo.
The omega-3 supplement was about 4 or 5 times the quantity of fish oil from a helping of salmon. The psychological surveys clearly revealed a significant change in anxiety, students receiving the omega-3 showed a 20% decrease in anxiety when compared to placebo group. An analysis of the medical students’ blood samples revealed similar important results.
The researchers measured the productivity of cells which made 2 important cytokines, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). There was a 14% decrease in the levels of IL-6 in the students that received the omega-3. Even though inflammation can be the body’s natural immune response which helps with healing, it can also result in harm from a host of conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer and arthritis.