Omega 3 and mental health

Omega 3 and mental health

Written especially for MentalHealthy by experts at takeomega3

Advice from the Government’s Food Standards Agency has remained consistent since 2006 – it  recommends that people consume two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish rich in Omega 3 and that they take 250mg of Omega 3 each day.  Thus many people across the UK take Omega supplements, or ones that contain Omega 3 to reach the recommended level.

There’s now increasing evidence – from various scientific studies in particular mental health – pointing to the beneficial effects of Omega 3 specifically the active ingredient that’s known as EPA or Eicosapentaenoic acid, but we’ll stick to EPA for obvious reasons. 

Omega 3‘s are a major component of brain cells, they are also key to the proper functioning of the two brain chemical signalling systems, dopamine and serotonin which have been specifically implicated in  those suffering from schizophrenia, bi polar, depression and addiction. Omega 3 also boosts levels of glutathione, an anti-oxidant that protects the brain against oxidative stress.

So what’s so special about EPA?  Studies have shown it has strong therapeutic effects in its own right on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, attention deficit disorder and dementia.  And EPA has been found to reduce the adverse effects of psychiatric and neurological drugs.

Taking an omega 3 supplement with high levels of EPA, (and lower levels of another ingredient DHA), is already being suggested as an alternative to Prozac by professionals at Forth Valley Health Board in Central Scotland – as a health supplement taken alongside prescribed drugs.

Therese McGoldrick is the Head of Service in the Behavioural Psychotherapy unit at Forth Valley Health Board.  She said: “The evidence is clear that the higher the concentrations of EPA in fish oil, combined with low concentrations of DHA, the better the benefits for mental health.

“I am confident that high concentrations of EPA help to stabilise mood swings – and taken in conjunction with prescribed treatments, patients have a better chance of keeping their lives on an even keel.”

Therese added: “People are often pleasantly surprised by the additional benefits highly concentrated fish oils can bring – clearer skin, shiny hair and a reduction in wrinkles and cellulite.”

A study from the Institute of Psychiatry in London reported encouraging results from a randomized controlled trial of EPA in 75 patients with bipolar disorder. Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the study found that the consumption of 1 or 2 grams of EPA daily for 3 months resulted in significant clinical improvements, notably in reduced depression. It is usually the gloomy depression phase of the illness that is most difficult to manage.  Hence, improvement in this condition offers considerable hope to people afflicted by it.

Additional benefits

And it appears the health benefits of EPA in fish oil don’t end there.  EPA fish oil is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory aiding treatment of conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, high cholesterol, asthma, type 2 diabetes, IBS, MS, endometriosis, eczema, acne and psoriasis.  And as a natural product, Omega 3 fish oil does not have any of the side effects often associated with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Eating oily fish or an equivalent can help improve the take-up of omega 3, but can never bring EPA concentrations to medically beneficial levels.  In the past, Omega 3 was much more a part of our daily diet.  Beef was one source, but that was when the majority of our cattle were grass fed – now the prevalence of grain, means the level of Omega 3 in beef has dropped.  And modern farming methods have created a similar story with chicken and eggs.

So we need to supplement our diet.

Indeed searching out an Omega 3 supplement with the required high levels of EPA can be difficult.  There are legions of products on every high street pharmacy’s shelves, all with different sized capsules and therefore differing prices – and that’s before you manage to find your reading glasses to examine the actual concentrations of the ingredients in the supplement.

As a comparison, it is worth comparing how much active ingredient is included in other products - it can be as low as 15%. (1000mg Omega 3 does not refer to active ingredients – it is the level of EPA and DHA that counts.)

To gain the full mental health benefits from Omega 3 supplements, look for a high concentration of EPA low concentration DHA .

And for those who worry about the chemical preparations offered to alleviate mental health problems, the addition of a naturally produced supplement must be a boost in its own right.

About takeomega3

One Omega 3 fish oil that is produced to pharmaceutical grade, is sourced from sustainable fish stocks and is manufactured in one of just two MHRA (Medical Health and Regulatory Authority) licensed facilities for the sale and manufacture of omega 3 fish oil in the UK, is takeomega3.

takeomega3 has one of the highest concentrations of EPA among the multitude of Omega 3 fish oils on the market.  Each 1000mg capsule can contain as much as 10 times the EPA found in other products – that’s at least 750mg EPA, (or 75% minimum) and 50mg DHA.

  • takeomega3 is available online at and through John Bell and Croyden in London
  • A £2.5m deal has been signed to supply takeomega3 to the United Arab Emirates where it will be distributed by the Modern Pharmaceutical Company
  • Clinical trials are being designed using takeomega3 at Greater Glasgow Health Board to analyse mental health benefits
  • takeomega3 is already being recommended at Forth Valley Health Board as a potential natural alternative to Prozac
  • Craig Chalmers, former Scotland rugby international and British Lion and now coach to leading club Melrose, is issuing takeomega3 to his players to aid recovery and reduce inflammation after matches 

Please see our guides below

Sources of Omega Fatty acids

Mind Food - an Introduction to eating for the mind

Mind Food - Carbohydrates

The Importance of B Vitamins

Mind Food - Omega 3, 6 and 9

Mind Food Recipes

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