Bordeaux, France—Omega-3s. You’ve probably heard that term a million times, and you’ve probably heard that these fatty acids are good for your heart, brain and skin. Now, there’s additional published data indicating that omega-3s can support a healthy mood.

The study, which was recently published in Nature Neuroscience, examined mice that were given various amounts of dietary omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The mice were fed a lifelong diet of imbalanced omega-3s and omega-6s, and they wound up suffering from health problems. Neuronal communication was disturbed. Furthermore, cannabinoid receptors, which regulate the immune system, anxiety, pain, the metabolism and bone growth, lost function completely. The mice also expressed depressive behaviors.

Researchers believe that omega-3s affect seratonin levels in the brain, thus helping to prevent depression. Many of the studies that have researched the connection between omega-3s and depression have cited fish oil supplements as a method of getting enough omega-3s in the diet. Research also points to the benefits of a properly balanced omega-3–6 diet for proper mood support.

Despite the promising results, researchers say additional data are needed to concretely prove that omega-3s can ward off depression.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine April 2011 (online 2/24/11)