Low Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake from Fish correlates with High Levels of Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy

Published in the July issue of the Journal Epidemiology, researchers put to the test the relationship between fish intake and depression based on the observation that “Although common in western countries, depression appears to be virtually absent in countries with high seafood intake.” (Abstract, High Levels of Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy with Low Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake from Fish)

The researchers collected data from women as they progressed in their pregnancy during 1991-1992. At 32 weeks, the women then completed a questionnaire which included symptoms of depression as well as a food frequency questionnaire from which the amount of Omega-3 Fatty acid from fish was calculated.

The results? Both adjusted and unadjusted analyses showed that lower maternal intake of omega-3 from fish was associated with high levels of depressive symptoms.

So just how much fish do you have to eat in order to achieve these results? Women consuming more than 1.5g of Omega-3 from seafood vs. those consuming none were less likely to have depressive symptoms. And how much fish equals 1.5g of Omega-3 fatty acids? FDA guidelines suggest women and children eat up to 12 oz of fish per week. Some of the healthier fish to eat (in order to avoid mercury build-up) are: Anchovies, Catfish, Crab, Herring, Mackerel, Mussels, Wild Salmon (Alaskan), Sardines, and Whitefish (source: Fish Intake During Pregnancy, Dietriffic.com)

What if you don’t like fish? You can take a supplement and there are non-fish sources of Omega 3 such as walnut, kiwi-fruit, flax seeds, pecans, hempseed, hazel nuts, and butternuts. Eggs and milk from grass fed chickens and cows are also higher in levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than other eggs and milk. But remember this particular study dealt specifically with Omega-3 from fish.

You can also check out the following blog, Rebuild from Depression, for additional sources and information regarding Omega-3 fatty acid sources.

I have been taking Omega 3/6/9 for quite some time now as part of my regular routine. I can tell when I forget to take my supplement as well. (So can my husband!) Make sure you talk to your physician before adding a supplement to your routine though. Also discuss adding more fish to your diet as well to make sure it fits with your particular situation.

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3 thoughts on “Low Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake from Fish correlates with High Levels of Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy

  1. Omega fatty acids create the baby’s brain!

    If you are already suffering from PPD and are on medication, remember to check if Omega fatty acid supplements conflict with your AD’s. Some do!

    • Helena –

      GREAT point! This is why it is SO important to always check with a doctor before adding any type of supplement. Also, if you are on a blood thinner, you need to talk with your doctor as well as Omegas can thin out blood and increase blood flow.


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