Depression affects as many as 350 million people worldwide. A recent study suggests that eating high amounts of fish may help reduce the risk of developing depression.
Researchers examined databases for relevant studies and found 101 articles containing relevant studies. Of those, 16 were eligible for inclusion in their analysis. There were 26 studies included in those 16 articles, for a total of 150,278 participants.
Ten of the studies included were cohort studies, meaning the researchers monitored people who didn’t have depression at the beginning of the study in order to measure how many participants developed it. The other studies were cross-sectional, meaning they examined the association between depression and other variables at a single point in time or over a specific, brief period.
Ten of the studies included participants from Europe, seven were from North America, and the remainder were from Asia, Oceania, and South America.
After examining all of the data, the researchers found a 17% reduction in risk of depression in the participants who ate the most fish when compared with those who ate the least. This finding held true for both cohort and cross-sectional studies.
When the researchers controlled for gender, they found that men had a 20% reduced risk of depression while women had a slightly lower reduced risk of 16%.
The researchers cautioned that no definitive conclusions could be drawn from the data. They did however suggest that the association could be due to the fact that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been shown to alter the microstructure of brain membranes and change the activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. They also suggested that the high quality protein, vitamins, and minerals found in fish may help combat depression or that eating a lot of fish may be associated with a healthier and more nutritious diet in general.
Researchers from Qingdao University in China conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 10, 2015, in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
More and more research is showing that fish consumption is extremely important to maintaining good health, especially as we age. Many of these studies have linked the positive health benefits of fish to their omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with benefits ranging from improved heart health, better moods, improved joint mobility, and aiding your immune system.
If you don’t like the taste of fish or are concerned about the mercury levels present in some fish, try adding a high quality supplement to your daily routine. Make sure, however, that your supplement has been tested for potency and purity in order to get the most out investment.