Learn the amazing benefits of fish oil and omega-3 for health, heart, brain and children.

Omega-6 Levels in Brain Linked to Depression

A new study found that depressed rats had higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids in their brains. The researchers were surprised:

“The finding that in the depressive rats the omega-3 fatty acid levels were not decreased, but arachidonic acid was substantially increased as compared to controls is somewhat unexpected.”

Arachidonic acid is a metabolite (or product) of omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in heavy abundance in most vegetable oils. So how does supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids relieve depression? The answer lies in the relationship between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Put on your thinking caps, folks, it’s time for a science lesson! Don’t worry, it’s easy to understand.

Omega-6s are metabolized in the body to become Arachidonic Acid. Arachidonic Acid is a precursor to pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, or hormone-like substances that increase inflammation in the body. While redness, heat, swelling and pain are the more commonly-known products of inflammation, a lesser known product is the dysfunction of the organ involved. Elevated levels of arachidonic acid in the brain actually cause dysfunction of the brain, thus causing depression! Or ADHD. Perhaps even Alzheimers. The list goes on and on. So how do the omega-3s fit in?

To put things simply, the omega-3 fatty acids compete with the omega-6 fatty acids for the chemicals required to convert the omega-6s into arachidonic acid, effectively neutralizing them. We need inflammation for when an infection or injury occurs, but we also need the omega-3s to allow the inflammation to subside. When you have a balance of the two, you remain well. When you have too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s, inflammation proliferates and so does dysfunction of the inflamed organs. What then happens from the system-wide inflammation is system-wide dysfunction, resulting in not just depression, but eventually also heart diseaseType II (Adult-Onset) Diabetes, ADHD and a host of other health issues.

Would the researchers agree? Let’s see what they had to say:

“But the finding lends itself nicely to the theory that increased omega-3 fatty acid intake may shift the balance between the two fatty acid families in the brain, since it has been demonstrated in animal studies that increased omega-3 fatty acid intake may result in decreased brain arachidonic acid.”