Study shows that most Americans are low in omega-3 fatty acids, which could affect mood


Research by Pharmavite, the makers of Nature Made vitamins and supplements, has found that the vast majority of Americans are not getting adequate amounts of EPA, DPA, or DHA in their daily diet.

Omega-3 deficiency can affect heart health, eyesight, inflammatory diseases, and some reports suggest mental health.

More and more research has found that the food we eat affects our emotional feeling, with some people using eating mood interventions to improve their mood.


The cross-sectional study, published in BMJ Open, analyzed U.S. population data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2012 – the most recent survey to make this information available – to determine the reference ranges for serum (blood) Biomarkers to determine the circulating long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DPA and DHA.

Researchers looked at the proportion of the US population who had an omega-3 nutrient gap, with serum omega-3 concentrations below the recommendations of the US Nutritional Guideline and below levels associated with reducing cardiovascular risk are.

“Low serum levels confirm that omega-3 fatty acid intake is inadequate for most Americans, especially young children, and it shows that more work is needed to educate the public about the important roles EPA, DPA and DHA play in helping to educate human health. “Said Susan Mitmesser, PhD, VP, Science & Technology, Pharmavite.” Healthy habits developed early in development inform and pave a healthy path later in life, so it is important that young children in addition to sleep and physical activity have access to foods rich in essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids. “

Other important findings from the study

  • Despite extensive studies showing the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, the regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the US population remains low across all stages of life. Low serum concentrations of EPA, DHA and the sum of all omega-3 fatty acids were observed across all life stages.
  • Based on life stages, gender, and demographics, populations with particularly low serum EPA and / or DHA levels include children 2 to 5 years of age, adult men, and Mexican-American / Hispanic and non-Hispanic blacks.

According to Pharmavite, supportive but inconclusive research suggests that consuming EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.

Good mood food

There is also increasing research suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids could play an even bigger role than previously thought in supporting other areas of human health, particularly those related to healthy mood.

Earlier this year, a separate study by Pharmavite looked at the relationship between depression and the levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in the circulatory system (based on an analysis by NHANES 2011-2012). Analysis of the data found that adults with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were correlated with a lower risk of depression, and adults with higher EPA levels were correlated with a lower risk of the effects of depression on daily life.


The mechanisms of action of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on depression are not fully understood. One hypothesis is that omega-3 fatty acids easily migrate across the brain cell membrane and thus interact with mood-related molecules in the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory effects that can play a role in relieving depression.

According to Harvard Health, various omega-3 supplements have been tested in people with depression in over 30 clinical studies. Most studies have used omega-3s as add-on therapy for people taking prescription antidepressants with little or no benefit. Fewer studies have looked at omega-3 therapy alone.

Although omega-3s are promising natural treatments for mood disorders, researchers indicate that more study is needed to make conclusive recommendations.

Source: BMJ Open

2021; 11: e043301. doi: 10.1136 / bmjopen-2020-043301

“Serum Concentrations of Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Life Stages in the USA: An Analysis by NHANES 2011–2012” “

Authors: R. Murphy et al.


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