A new study measuring the effect of consuming more fish oil demonstrated a significant reduction of both inflammation and surprisingly, in anxiety in a group of healthy young adults.

The findings suggest that if these participants can experience such improvement from certain supplements, then others, such as those at high risk of developing certain diseases and senior citizens may benefit even more.

Researchers at Ohio State University recently published their findings in the medical research journal, Brain, Behavior and Immunity.  It is the most recent research conducted for more than thirty years into the relationship between immunity and psychological distress.

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA and EPA, for a long time have been viewed as positive additions to our diet.  Previous research has demonstrated that these fatty acids might play a role in reducing the level of cytokines, chemicals created by our immune system that promote inflammation, and may reduce depression.

Psychological distress is known to increase cytokine production.  The researchers sought to determine if increasing omega-3 intake might inhibit and reducing inflammation.

The study involved medical students (at Ohio State).

According to Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, Ph.D., professor of psychology and psychiatry, “We hypothesized that giving some students omega-3 supplements would decrease their production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, compared to other students who only received a placebo.”

“We thought that omega-3 would reduce the stress-induced increase in cytokines that normally arose from nervousness over the tests.”

Sixty-eight medical student volunteers participated.  Psychological surveys clearly showed a significant and meaningful alteration n the student’s anxiety levels.  Those consuming the omega-3 supplement, experienced a 20 per cent reduction in anxiety, compared to those who didn’t take it.

Dr.  Ron Glaser noted, “We saw a 14 percent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 (a cytokine) among the students receiving the omega-3.”

While inflammation is a natural process, that promotes healing, it can have a detrimental effect on the body, and play a role in the development of most diseases, from heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, arthritis to cancer.

Another study researcher, Dr. Martha Belury also noted, “It may be too early to recommend a broad use of omega-3 supplements throughout the public, especially considering the cost and limited supplies of fish needed to supply the oil.  People should just consider increasing their omega-3 through their diet.”

Source: Brain, Behavior and Immunity