How fish oil supplements can affect your behavior and mood

Share on Pinterest
Omega-3 supplements may help reduce aggression and violent outbursts, new research suggests. Duet Postscriptum/Stocksy United
  • New research has found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can reduce aggression and violent outbursts.
  • The study found that omega-3 supplements can reduce aggression by 30%.
  • Experts say omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain and improves the production of dopamine and serotonin.
  • To increase your omega-3 intake, you can take a supplement or eat more foods such as oily fish, extra virgin olive oil and walnuts.

If you rarely feel angry, irritable, or aggressive, omega-3s may be a contributing factor.

New research has found that people who take omega-3 supplements such as fish oil or who get enough omega-3 fatty acids from foods containing these fatty acids are less prone to aggressive and violent outbursts.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that everyday omega-3 supplements reduced aggression by 30%, regardless of age or gender.

The meta-analysis of 29 randomized controlled trials showed that omega-3 reduced both reactive aggression, that is, behavior in response to a provocation, and proactive aggression, which is planned.

“The study’s findings – which show that omega-3s can reduce aggression and violent outbursts – are consistent with existing knowledge about the critical role of these nutrients in brain health,” said Stefanie Daniels, a registered nutritional therapist who does not was involved in the research. “While intriguing, it is not surprising given the link between omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation reduction and neurotransmitter function.”

Daniels says these findings underscore the enormous impact that diet and nutrition can have on behavior and emotional regulation.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that our bodies need but cannot produce themselves, so we must get them from the diet.

They are crucial for several body functions, such as reducing inflammation, supporting brain health and maintaining heart health.

Daniels says they also help keep cell membranes flexible and are vital for brain development and function, influencing mood and behavior.

She points to four main reasons why omega-3 fatty acids appear to have this effect on aggression. First, they are anti-inflammatory.

“Chronic inflammation in the brain does linked mood disorders and aggressive behavior, and omega-3 fatty acids (particularly EPA and DHA) help reduce this inflammation,” she explains.

“By reducing inflammation, these fatty acids can support a more stable and balanced mood.”

Psychiatrist and nutritional therapist Dr. Jennifer Kraker, MD, agrees.

She says the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids are important for mood because when our immune system’s responses are elevated, they can activate biochemicals that cause excessive excitatory responses in the brain.

“This is neurotoxic to the brain and causes irritability and, in those susceptible, aggression,” she explains. “Omega 3 fatty acids work to inhibit this pathway.”

Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids improve the production and function of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, both of which are crucial for regulating our mood.

Dysregulation of these neurotransmitters May lead to aggression. However, adequate nutrition can help support these neurotransmitters.

Omega-3 fatty acids can also maintain the integrity and fluidity of these membranes, which Daniels says is essential for efficient communication between brain cells.

“This contributes to better emotional regulation and a decrease in aggressive behavior,” she explains.

The fourth reason why omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in reducing aggression is related to HPA axis modulation.

“The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulates the body’s response to stress, and omega-3 fatty acids help modulate this axis, leading to a more balanced stress response and a reduced tendency toward aggression,” Daniels explains .

Omega-3 fatty acids may provide other brain health benefits in addition to reducing aggression.

Daniels says they can reduce anxiety and depression thanks to their anti-inflammatory and neurotransmitter-modulating effects.

In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cognitive decline. “DHA helps maintain cognitive function and may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases,” explains Daniels.

They could also improve neurological development.

“In children, omega-3 fatty acids support brain development and cognitive performance, potentially reducing ADHD symptoms,” notes Daniels.

Now that you know that omega 3 fatty acids can improve your mood and reduce irritability, you may be wondering how you can incorporate more of them into your diet.

First of all, it’s a good idea to understand how much you need. Daniels says adults should aim for 0.6 – 3 grams of EPA and 0.15 – 2 grams of DHA per day.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consume 300-900 mg of DHA daily.

Kraker believes that most Westerns are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.

“In my practice, if someone is deficient or insufficient in omega-3 fatty acids, I tend to start with supplementation of at least 2 grams per day of a supplement, in addition to encouraging an increase in dietary sources,” says she.

Supplements can be a good start, but as Kraker suggests, you shouldn’t neglect your diet.

Both experts agree that including more fatty fish in your diet will help. Daniels recommends including fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring in your meals at least twice a week

Extra virgin olive oil is also a good source of omega-3. “Add extra virgin olive oil to smoothies, salad dressings or drizzle over cooked vegetables for a plant-based omega-3 boost,” advises Daniels.

“It is best to use it as supplied, rather than cooking with it, as it cannot withstand high temperatures. Where possible, also buy extra virgin olive oil in a dark glass bottle so that it remains optimal and does not oxidize,” she says.

You may want to swap your snacks to increase your omega-3 intake. Daniels says walnuts are a great source of ALA. “Enjoy them as a snack or add them to salads or your morning berry bowl,” she suggests.

Finally, eat chia seeds. “They are little powerhouses that are rich in ALA and also provide fiber,” says Daniels. “Sprinkle chia seeds over yogurt or blend into smoothies.”

The results of this study suggest that poor nutrition is a risk factor for behavioral problems and that you can counteract feelings of aggression by increasing your omega-3 intake.

However, healthy eating is not a comprehensive solution to violent outbursts. However, if you consume more oily fish, extra virgin olive oil and nuts, you may notice an improvement in your mood.

Leave a Comment