The Anxiety-Reducing Supplement You're Probably Already Taking

Image by Kayla Johnson

Omega-3 supplements are one of the most common supplements out there, made famous by their anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits. If you've been taking fish oil consistently (like me) and are wondering if there are any benefits beyond those for heart health and inflammation—there's good news.

A recent analysis in JAMA Network Open found that participants who took 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s experienced a significant reduction in anxiety compared to those who took placebos. Those with clinically diagnosed anxiety benefited the most from the supplements.

What's inside that makes this work? Omega-3 contains two essential nutrients that have been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In this study headed by Dr. Yutaka Matuoka, the supplement was most advantageous when the supplements contained less than 60 percent EPA.

Dr. Yutaka Matsuoka, chief of health care research at the National Cancer Center in Japan, tells the New York Times omega-3s are a "promising alternative" for those not responding to common anxiety treatments. Although this sounds like an easy substitute for anxiety medication and therapy, it is important to consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

Whether you have been taking fish oil supplements specifically for heart health or hoping to reap some other benefits—it may not be such a bad idea to keep it up.

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