Omega-3 may improve executive function in youth with depression or bipolar

American researchers recently published a study in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, showing a connection between omega-3 consumption and executive function.

The researchers randomly assigned nearly 100 participants into two groups: a placebo group and a group that received omega-3 supplements. Participants were all youths and had either depression or bipolar. Each participant received 2 capsules (placebo or supplement) twice daily for 12 weeks.

Participants were further randomized into two groups: one group received psychoeducational psychotherapy and the other did not. Functionally, there were 4 groups:

Omega 3 Placebo
Therapy 1 2
No therapy 3 4


Researchers analyzed the impact of the interventions on the executive function in the youth using 3 measures:

  1. Global Executive Composite
  2. Behavior Regulation Index
  3. Metacognition Index

What they discovered was that the executive function in participants who received the omega-3 supplements had significantly improved when compared to those who received the placebo capsules. In fact, the omega-3 participants performed better on all 3 measures listed above.

Omega-3 is naturally found in several foods. Here are the top 10, in order of highest to lowest concentration:

  1. Mackerel
  2. Flaxseed (oil or grounded)
  3. Walnuts
  4. Caviar
  5. Salmon
  6. Chia seeds
  7. Herring
  8. Anchovies
  9. Whitefish
  10. Sardines

This study joins a growing body of research showing a strong connection between nutrition and mental health. Here at Truehope, we’ve been promoting nutrition as mental health treatment for over 20 years.

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