There’s little evidence that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements helps treat depression, researchers report.
Some studies have suggested that these fish oil supplements may benefit people with major depression.
But in a review published Nov. 5 in the Cochrane Library, researchers disagreed after analyzing 26 studies that included more than 1,400 people with depression.
“We found a small-to-modest positive effect of omega-3 fatty acids compared to placebo, but the size of this effect is unlikely to be meaningful to people with depression, and we considered the evidence to be of low or very low quality,” lead author Katherine Appleton, of Bournemouth University in the U.K., said in a journal news release.
“At present, we just don’t have enough high quality evidence to determine the effects of omega-3 fatty acids as a treatment for major depressive disorder. It’s important that people who suffer from depression are aware of this, so that they can make more informed choices about treatment,” Appleton concluded.
In the review, the symptom scores among those who took the supplements were slightly lower than for those who took a placebo. But, the difference was small and there were significant limitations in the studies that could have affected the results, according to the review authors.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which occur naturally in fatty fish such as tuna, other seafood and some nuts and seeds, are believed to be important for good health. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are widely available as over-the-counter products and have become increasingly popular over the past decade.
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has more about omega-3 fatty acids.