Can This Fatty Acid Make You Happier and Smarter?
It’s been well established that omega-3 fatty acids are great for health in general. And as countless studies have demonstrated, they’re especially beneficial for the health of your brain. Many studies have established that omega-3s help with facets of memory, learning, attention, mood and reaction time. And according to a recent study, one source of omega-3s may offer particularly powerful mood health benefits.
Researchers at the Centre for Research on Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Norway have discovered there are specific components of krill oil, which is full of omega-3s and the antioxidant astaxanthin, that not only help with learning processes, but also provide antidepressive effects.
The 2013 study, published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, evaluated the effects of krill oil on cognition and depressive behavior in rats. After seven weeks, the animals given krill oil had significantly better test results regarding learned behaviors than the animals who were not given krill oil. The krill group had significantly improved depressive symptoms, as identified through a series of tests, leading the researchers to conclude that krill oil has an “antidepressant-like potential and beneficial cognitive effect.”
While it’s true that this is a preliminary, non-human study, nearly a decade of literature reviews show that there is sufficient evidence that omega-3s can play a role in helping cases of depression. This study is among the first to suggest that krill oil’s unique profile of omega-3s and astaxanthin may be particularly helpful in promoting healthy mood balance and cognitive function.
Krill oil can be used for a variety of health benefits, and we may now see krill oil being used as part of a novel treatment for depression and other psychiatric disorders. Since antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S., it’s exciting to see research being done on natural alternatives that work through different chemical pathways.
Carlene Thomas RD,LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in weight loss and wellness. She provides nutrition guidance to the public in a variety of ways including corporate wellness, private clients and contributes an expert nutrition voice to a variety of media.