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Fish Oil for Anxiety - How Well Does It Work?

Does using fish oil for anxiety help to reduce the symptoms?

fish oil for anxietyAfter many decades of clinical trials, omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are shown to benefit many mental health conditions.

Essential fatty acids are natural substances that our body cannot make. We have to get them from our diet.

In addition to the mental health benefits of fish oil, it is proven to protect the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels), in part, by lowering high cholesterol.

You can discover all the Health Benefits of Fish Oil in this comprehensive review so we don't cover it here.

Lets look at the scientific studies behind using fish oil specifically for anxiety disorders...

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Research study on the health benefits of fish oil for anxiety

The three clinical studies discussed below were designed to find out if omega 3 (found in fish oil) can reduce anxiety symptoms.

Study #1

Mixture of essential fatty acids lowers test anxiety.
Yehuda S, Rabinovitz S, Mostofsky DI.
Nutr Neurosci. 2005 Aug;8(4):265-7.

The three researchers who completed this research study in Israel found that taking a mixture of omega-3 and -6 helped to reduce anxiety symptoms experienced by students who are preparing to write exams.

Students not only experienced less anxiety, but they also showed improvements in mood, mental concentration, lowered fatigue, better appetite and more restful sleep at night.

Study #2

n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease anxiety feelings in a population of substance abusers.
Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M.
J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006 Dec;26(6):661-5.

In this double-blinded randomized clinical trial, 13 volunteers took 3 grams of fish oil supplement and 11 took a look-alike capsule for 3 months.

The results after a 3 month treatment with fish oil clearly showed that anxiety levels were significantly less for those volunteers who took the fish oil. The anxiety levels did not change in the group that took the placebo capsule.

The researchers had the foresight to take the study one step further. They wanted to know how long the benefit of fish oil would last after it was stopped. The surprising results?

The anxiety levels still remained low even after three months of stopping the fish oil supplement!

Clearly, the benefits of fish oil supplements continued afterwards for many months.

Study #3

Associations between increases in plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids following supplementation and decreases in anger and anxiety in substance abusers.
Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, Hibbeln JR.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Feb 15;32(2):568-75.

In this small but well-designed study involving 22 volunteers, half of them were randomly assigned to take 3 grams of fish oil (containing EPA and DHA) or a look-alike placebo pill.

After 3 months, the group that took the fish oil showed significantly less anger and anxiety. Indeed, their blood levels of omega-3 and -6 measured much higher.

The researchers concluded that fish oil supplements have great benefits for reducing anxiety and anger in substance abusers.

These two last studies clearly show that fish oil supplements can have a significant effect on anxiety levels.

What about using fish oil for panic attacks?

There were no studies that looked at that specific disorder. But as with anxiety, low levels of serotonin in the brain plays a major role in triggering panic attacks in certain individuals. Fish oil supplements can certainly be helpful in this regard.


Dose to use

Experts suggest using between 1 to 4 grams daily of fish oil. Two of the studies discussed above used 3 grams of n-3 PUFAS (fish oil containing both EPA + DHA) daily for 3 months. This dose was shown to be effective at reducing anxiety levels.

See the article Fish Oil Dosage to get additional information on some of the dosages that have been used for various health conditions.

Bottom Line?

Take fish oil for anxiety symptoms. It works!

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil are proven to have a significant impact on the development and functioning of the brain. Low levels are linked to a variety of mental disorder including ADHD, depression and anxiety, just to name a few.

Fish oil supplements can be safely combined with effective herbal remedies for anxiety like PureCalm for additional benefits.

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Related Articles and Resources for Fish Oil for Anxiety

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The Full Comprehensive Review on Fish Oil


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References for Fish Oil for Anxiety
Created: February 26, 2011

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