fish oil, flax oil, omega 3, omega 3 fatty acids

Flax Oil or Fish Oil: Which is Better for Treating Depression?

Fish oil is one of the most popular supplements around, as it has so many health benefits. Many studies show that when a person supplements their diet with Omega-3 fatty acids—particularly EPA and DHA—there’s a noticeable improvement in their overall mood. Many people take flax oil instead, as it also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, but is it as effective as fish oil for alleviating depression? Which of these two oils is the superior one?

The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments recently shared their findings that Omega-3 fatty acid supplements were effective in treating mild to moderate depression. The antidepressant effect from these supplements come into play because they modify serotonin transmissions in the brain. The fatty acids also reduce overall brain inflammation. In addition to this, Omega-3 inhibits oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, which undoubtedly adds to the antidepressant effects.

Different Types of Fatty Acids

Until now, no-one has really delved into the different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, nor how they combine in the presence of estrogen to impact women’s moods. Estrogen itself can be antidepressant, which is why so many women struggle with depression during perimenopause, when levels drop.

If you’re wondering where fatty acids come from, flax oil carries ALA, while fish oil has EPA and DHA. A study of these 

fatty acids and their effects was conducted on menopausal rats. Although it’s not directly applicable to humans, rats are a good model for brain/hormonal health in humans. These rats were given estrogen to determine estrogen’s effect of the hormones separately from the Omega fatty acids.

The rats were divided into three groups:

  • A control diet
  • Flax oil diet (ALA)
  • Fish oil diet (EPA/DHA)

The results were interesting. Flax oil and fish oil increased the level of the types of fatty acids they contain in the rats’ brains. As for how they compared, fish oil increased levels of the brains’ beneficial phospholipids the most.

To find out more about this study, read the full blog post on here