Listed in Issue 201


LUCAS and COLLEAGUES, Departments of Nutrition and Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA examined the relation between different n-3 and n-6 types with clinical depression incidence.


The associations between different sources of dietary n-3 (omega-3) and n-6 (omega-6) fatty acids and the risk of depression have not been prospectively studied.


The authors prospectively studied 54,632 US women from the Nurses' Health Study who were 50-77 y of age and free from depressive symptoms at baseline. Information on diet was obtained from validated food-frequency questionnaires. Clinical depression was defined as reporting both physician-diagnosed depression and regular antidepressant medication use.


During 10 y of follow-up (1996-2006), 2823 incident cases of depression were documented. Intake of long-chain n-3 fatty acids from fish was not associated with depression risk [relative risk (RR) for 0.3-g/d increment: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.88, 1.10], whereas alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) intake was inversely associated with depression risk (multivariate RR for 0.5-g/d increment: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.71, 0.94). The inverse association between ALA and depression was stronger in women with low linoleic acid (LA) intake (P for interaction = 0.02): a 0.5-g/d increment in ALA was inversely associated with depression in the first, second, and third LA quintiles [RR (95% CI): 0.57 (0.37, 0.87), 0.62 (0.41, 0.93), and 0.68 (0.47, 0.96), respectively] but not in the fourth and fifth quintiles.


The results of this large longitudinal study do not support a protective effect of long-chain n-3 from fish on depression risk. Although these data support the hypothesis that higher ALA and lower LA intakes reduce depression risk, this relation warrants further investigation.


Lucas M, Mirzaei F, O'Reilly EJ, Pan A, Willett WC, Kawachi I, Koenen K, Ascherio A. Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of clinical depression in women: a 10-y prospective follow-up study. Source American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 93(6):1337-43. Jun 2011. Other ID Source: NLM. PMC3095504 [Available on 06/01/12].

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