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Last updated on November 30, 2023 by Randy Withers
If you are one of the many who struggle with anxiety, you are probably looking for ways to reduce your symptoms. But did you know that diet plays a key role in mental health?
Among the various dietary factors we are learning more about, one stands out: omega-3 fatty acids. Research on this has given rise to an intriguing question: “Is omega-3 good for anxiety?”
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how the foods we eat can influence our feelings, with a special focus on omega-3s. We’ll discuss what omega-3s are, where you can find them, and explore the possibility that they are a natural way to manage anxiety.
Join us as we explore the role of omega-3s in managing anxiety and other types of mood disorders.
What are omega-3s?
Omega-3 fatty acids are nutrients that surround cells, nourishing and strengthening them. There are three acids that make them up:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (ELA)
The acids are essential fatty acids, which means you must consume them. Your body can’t produce them. ALA comes mainly from vegetable oils, such as soybean or canola. DHA and ALS are found in seafood such as salmon and tuna, which is why many omega-3 supplements are fish oils.
Scientists recommend that healthy adult men get about 1,600 milligrams of ALA per day and healthy adult women take 1,100 milligrams. There is no standard for DHA or ELA.
There are several studies on the impact of omega-3s on the body. They are important for brain, eye, heart, respiratory, and reproductive health. They also contribute to a healthy endocrine and immune system. They also have mental health benefits.
Is omega-3 good for anxiety?
Anxiety relief is one of many health benefits of omega-3. Evidence supports that omega-3s can help relieve anxiety symptoms through their impact on the brain. DHA can significantly affect your neurotransmitters and slow down your brain’s ability to process glucose. TO 2018 meta-analysis of 19 different studies found that people taking high doses of omega-3s (up to 2,000 milligrams) had reduced anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety may be caused by your brain not effectively processing and sending messages to your nervous system. Omega-3s improve processing capacity, which can affect anxiety. It also affects your memory and ability to learn, which can prevent situations that cause anxiety.
Doctors do not recommend using omega-3s as a replacement for psychiatric medications, but with proper medical guidance, adding one to your treatment plan could help.
How to get more omega-3s in your diet
You can get omega-3s through a varied diet that includes varieties of seafood, especially fatty cold-water fish like herring and mackerel. They contain both DHA and ELA. Nuts and seeds like chia and walnuts have ALA. You can also get omega-3s through fortified foods. It is added to some eggs, milk and other dairy products and juices.
Most people get enough omega-3s in their diet for physical health. Being ineffective can lead to an inflamed, scaly rash.
You can increase your intake with dietary supplements. Krill, cod, and algae oil come in capsules that you can take in various doses. Taking them may give you a higher daily dose than you would otherwise get. If you eat some omega-3-rich foods but have symptoms of anxiety, a supplement may help. Normally you shouldn’t have more than 5,000 milligrams. You can often tell if she’s had too much by an upset stomach, heartburn, headaches, or smelly sweat.
Always check that a supplement does not negatively interact with another medication. One of the main interactions of omega-3 supplements is causing bleeding in people taking blood thinners.
Overall, omega-3s are a relatively safe way to improve anxiety symptoms.
Other dietary strategies
Omega-3s aren’t the only supplement that can help. You can also consider these options.
Research shows that curcumin can reduce symptoms. It is anti-inflammatory but also provides many benefits for the brain, including regulating serotonin and dopamine. Those hormones are essential to improve your mood and can combat anxiety and depression. You can find curcumin in turmeric, curry powder, and mango and ginger. You can take it as a supplement or add it to curries or teas.
Around 40% of Americans They are deficient in vitamin D and low levels can contribute to many mental health conditions, including anxiety. You can increase your vitamin D levels by spending more time in natural light. Many fish, eggs, red meats, fortified milks and cereals also contain it.
Some anxiety patients have reported that vitamin C reduces anxiety levels. It is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress which contributes to anxious thoughts and feelings. Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and tomatoes have high levels of the vitamin, as do potatoes, broccoli, and red and green peppers.
Hydration is essential for life and water has calming elements. You can get it by drinking non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drinks. Many foods also contain some water; Grapes, watermelon and celery have high water content. When you’re dehydrated, your brain doesn’t work as efficiently, which makes you nervous. Having four to six glasses per day can keep you sufficiently hydrated.
There is some evidence that a ketogenic diet can help reduce anxiety symptoms. Free radicals in your body can damage your cells. A high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, such as the ketogenic diet, can improve your ability to use antioxidants. There is debate about whether the ketogenic diet is healthy in the long term, so it may be better as a short-term booster.
Other techniques to reduce anxiety
If you’re hoping to reduce anxiety symptoms, there are non-dietary methods that can help.
Meditation is a learned skill that you can use to calm your body and mind. Anxiety can cause your mind to think about past traumas or worst-case scenarios about the future. Meditation allows you to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on the present moment. There are many types of mediation, including focusing on a mantra, attuning to the senses, and controlling the breath. Fair 10 minutes of meditation per day can reduce intrusive thoughts. There are many free resources available that can help you get started.
Aromatherapy uses different aromas that can distract and calm the mind. You can use candles or a diffuser to experience its effects. Lavender, rose and eucalyptus can be beneficial for anxiety. Start small to ensure you don’t have any adverse side effects. You can use them in your home or workplace to feel more centered.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to increased anxiety symptoms. Healthy adults need between seven and nine hours each night, although most sleep less. Sleep is essential for processing thoughts and memories. It also regulates the stress hormone, cortisol. High levels can lead to higher levels of anxiety.
Take omega-3 for anxiety
Omega-3s have a number of health benefits, including helping with anxiety. Although it is not a substitute for medication, getting it through foods and supplements could help you feel calmer. Combined with other foods and coping strategies, it can reduce your symptoms.
So is omega-3 good for anxiety?
Managing anxiety effectively goes beyond prescription medications. Omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial and offer a natural method to relieve anxiety symptoms. They play a key role in brain health, but should be part of a broader strategy that includes therapy, exercise, and healthy coping skills.
Including foods or supplements rich in omega-3 in the diet is beneficial. Additionally, incorporating nutrients such as curcumin, vitamins D and C, and staying hydrated are crucial for mental well-being.
Practices such as meditation, aromatherapy, and adequate sleep also contribute significantly to anxiety management. Overall, a balanced approach that combines diet, lifestyle habits, and medical guidance is essential to effectively manage anxiety.
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