Fish oil supplements have no effect on anxiety and depression

Published by  News Archive

On 4th Nov 2019

Omega-3 fats have little or no effect on anxiety and depression according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

Increased consumption of omega 3 fats is widely promoted globally because of a common belief that it will protect against, or even reverse, conditions such as anxiety and depression.

But a systematic review published today in the British Journal of Psychiatry, finds that omega 3 supplements offer no benefit.

Omega 3 is a type of fat. Small amounts are essential for good health and can be found in the food that we eat including nuts and seeds and fatty fish, such as salmon.

Omega 3 fats are also readily available as over-the-counter supplements and they are widely bought and used.

The research team looked at 31 trials of adults with and without depression or anxiety. More than 41,470 participants were randomised to consume more long-chain omega-3 fats (fish oils), or maintain their usual intake, for at least six months

They found that the supplements had little or no effect in preventing depression or anxiety symptoms.

Lead author Dr Lee Hooper, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Our previous research has shown that long-chain omega 3 supplements, including fish oils, do not protect against conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes or death.

“This large systematic review included information from many thousands of people over long periods. Despite all this information, we don’t see protective effects.

“The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect of long-chain omega 3 fats on depression or anxiety, and they should not be encouraged as a treatment.”

Dr Katherine Deane, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, said “Oily fish can be a very nutritious food as part of a balanced diet.

“But we found that there is no demonstrable value in people taking omega 3 oil supplements for the prevention or treatment of depression and anxiety.

"Considering the environmental concerns about industrial fishing and the impact it is having on fish stocks and plastic pollution in the oceans, it seems unhelpful to continue to swallow fish oil tablets that give no benefit."

The research was funded by the World Health Organisation.

Omega-3 and polyunsaturated fat for prevention of depression and anxiety symptoms: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials’ is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry

Latest News

  News
08 Mar 2021

Sea level rise up to four times global average for coastal communities

Coastal populations are experiencing relative sea-level rise up to four times faster than the global average – according to new research from the University of...

Read more >
  News
The International Women's Day banner, accompanied with images of UEA staff and students
08 Mar 2021

UEA community choose to challenge on International Women’s Day

Staff and students reveal what they choose to challenge, on International Women's Day.

Read more >
  News
05 Mar 2021

Antarctic seals reveal worrying threats to disappearing glaciers

More Antarctic meltwater is surfacing than was previously known, modifying the climate, preventing sea ice from forming and boosting marine productivity–...

Read more >
  News
04 Mar 2021

How governments and companies should listen to the people on climate change

People are more engaged in reducing carbon emissions than previously thought - and governments, scientists and companies should listen to them - according to new...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
04 Mar 2021

How governments and companies should listen to the people on climate change

People are more engaged in reducing carbon emissions than previously thought - and governments, scientists and companies should listen to them - according to new...

Read more >
  News
The Earth in space
04 Mar 2021

UEA’s Development Studies makes global top ten

UEA’s Development Studies has been rated as one of the top ten in the world by a global university rankings table released today (Wednesday 3 March).

Read more >
  News
03 Mar 2021

Tenfold increase in CO2 emissions cuts needed to stem climate emergency

New research shows 64 countries cut their fossil CO2 emissions during 2016-2019, but the rate of reduction needs to increase tenfold to meet the Paris Agreement...

Read more >
  News
02 Mar 2021

Independent music squashed out of streaming playlists and revenue

Bands and artists on independent record labels get less than their fair share of access to the most popular playlists on streaming platforms such as Spotify –...

Read more >
  News
01 Mar 2021

World Wildlife Day spotlight on the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

From protecting pollinators to studying bird migration, safeguarding Antarctic penguins and writing about jellyfish superpowers – a group of UEA researchers are...

Read more >