Anxiety, or worry, is experienced by just about everyone at some point. Some people have anxiety disorders, which are more serious conditions, but it’s safe to say that most people experience at least occasional anxiety. That’s why a new study on omega-3s found in fish oil is so exciting. It’s the first study to look at the effects of fish oil on anxiety in a healthy population—meaning, in people who don’t already have an anxiety disorder. It’s already known that fish oil can be helpful for those people. But what about people who only experience anxiety here and there?
The researchers took a group of medical students and gave them omega-3 supplements for three months. The supplements contained 2,085 mg of EPA and 348 mg of DHA. Another group got a placebo. After three months, the group taking the fish oil showed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety scores and a 14 percent reduction in the production of the inflammatory marker interleukin-6 (IL-6) over the placebo group.
IL-6 is an inflammatory cytokine. Depression and anxiety are both known to involve the production of inflammatory cytokines. This is one of the gut-brain connections, actually, since the inflammation can originate in the gut. Omega-3s were able to reduce these inflammatory compounds, highlighting just one way they may be helping mood disorders like depression and anxiety.