Implications Of The Lack of Omega-3 In America

Implications of the Lack of Omega-3 in America    

By: Jeff Aubert

With nutrition being a major component at Nutripsychtherapy, I decided to look into the research done on a lack of omega 3 fatty acids in the typical American diet these days.  In the late 1800’s it is believed that the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 was 1: 1.  Going forward into the 1900’s,  the ratio has steadily changed to as much as 25: 1 in favor of omega 6 (Bodnar & Wisner, 2005).  The typical American diet has far less fish and most of the beef consumed is grain-fed.  The field grazed beef of yesteryear had much more omega 3’s than today’s beef.  People ate more wild game and less processed food in the past that contributed to higher omega 3’s.

Specifically, what are the effects of proper omega 3 levels on the brain?  In a 2008 article by Lakhan and Vieira, their research shows that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have antidepressant effects on humans.  DHA and EPA affect signal transduction in brain cells by activating peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), inhibiting G-proteins and protein kinase C, as well as calcium, sodium, and potassium ion channels (Lakhan & Vieira, 2008).  In other words, these essential fatty acids serve in numerous ways to help the brain function properly. 

It would be interesting to research other countries depression rates that have different nutritional intakes of omega 3.  Even in our own country, I wonder if Alaska has a lower depression rate, since many of the residents there eat wild game and fish in their diet.  I recently went to Whole Foods to look for field grazed beef and was amazed at how expensive it was.  Unfortunately, it costs more to eat right in the United States and the people with the least amount of money are probably eating the worst kind of foods.  This situation exacerbates the problem of depression and it will continue until a shift in consumer buying patterns helps to move food suppliers to a healthier alternative. 

 

*Bodnar, L. M., & Wisner, K. L. (2005, May 4). Implications for Improving Mental Health in Childbearing-Aged Woman (Review). University of Pittsburg: Society of Biological Psychiatry.

*Lakhan, S. E., & Vieira, K. F. (2008). Nutrition Therapies for Mental Disorders. Los Angeles, CA  : BioMed Central.

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