Fish, Fatty Acid Intake Tied to Lower Depression Risk in Boys

Such intake does not appear to correlate with depression in girls
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Higher levels of fish and fatty acid consumption may protect against adolescent depression in boys but not in girls, according to research published online Aug. 16 in Pediatrics.

Kentaro Murakami, Ph.D., of the University of Tokyo, and colleagues assessed the dietary intake of 3,067 boys and 3,450 girls aged 12 to 15 years. Specifically, they looked at consumption of fish to determine the role of fish and long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake on adolescent depression.

The researchers found that 22.5 percent of the boys and 31.2 percent of the girls exhibited depressive symptoms. Significant inverse associations were found in boys between both fish and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) intake and depression, and a nonsignificant inverse association was found between docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake and depression. Fish and fatty acid intake, however, did not appear related to depressive symptoms in girls.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that a higher intake of fish, EPA, and DHA is independently associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms in early adolescence. This cross-sectional study is a valuable addition to the literature that a higher intake of fish, EPA, and DHA is related to a decreased risk of depression. Although more research is needed to confirm the causality of the association, dietary modification to increase the intake of fish, EPA, and DHA may be an important strategy for the prevention of depression," the authors write.

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