Autumn is a beautiful time of year, yet it can also be a time when depression and the blues may move more. The shorter days and longer nights contribute to seasonal affective disorder in ordinarily upbeat individuals. While the effects may feel emotional and psychological, sometimes treatment can fall under the category of nutrition.
Your brain is approximately 60 percent fat. In order for your brain to function properly it needs to have enough essential fatty acids. Most of us take in more omega-6 fatty acids than we need in a conventional diet. The challenge is raising our levels of omega-3s.
An imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids can contribute to mood disorders. Too little of omega-3 fatty acids is linked with depression, fatigue, as well as cognitive difficulties and the inability to concentrate.
Correcting an imbalance in omega-3 fatty acid levels has been found to bring greater balance to mood and behavior. Omega-3 essential fatty acids have been used for the treatment of depression in both children and adults.
Taking omega-3 essential fatty acids when it's done every day may lift a flagging mood this time of year. Omega-3 fatty acids can be taken in liquid or capsule form. Some foods can be added to your diet to boost your consumption of omega-3s as well.
According to Dr. Oz, wild rice, walnuts, and beans (like kidney beans and black beans) are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, nutritionist, Elizabeth Somer disagrees that these plant sources provide the right kinds of omega-3 essential fatty acids to enhance your mood.
While some experts dispute the plant sources of omega-3s, there is a general agreement that omega-3s from fatty cold water fish sources fill the bill. Some of the best fish for omega-3 essential fatty acids are salmon, sardines, smelt, shad, and anchovies.
Scientificamerican.com reported that a study with mice indicated improvement in brain function by increased consumption of omega-3s. This research was published in Nature Neuroscience online. The research group was led by Mathieu Lafourcade of The French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) Magendie Neurocenter in France. Findings were that mice who were low in omega-3 fatty acids were also deficient in polyunsaturated fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The mice were also seen to have higher levels than normal of omega-6 fatty acids.
They showed symptoms of depression under testing. They were discouraged more easily than other mice in various tests, were less adventurous, and kept themselves close to the cage walls. The researchers interpreted these indicators as being signs of anxiety.
Not all depression is the result of a deficiency of omega-3 essential fatty acids. But for those cases that are related to low omega-3s this research is good news. Instead of having to grapple with depression, for these individuals, relief can be more simply found with a spoonful of oil or a fish dinner.
Jody Smith is a freelance writer for Empowher.com
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