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Fish Oil Linked to Reductions in Inflammation and Anxiety

A recent study from the researchers at the Ohio State University has found a link between the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, decreased inflammation and lower levels of anxiety. The findings were published in the August 2011 issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Years of research have linked psychological stress to increased cytokine production, which leads to increased inflammation in the body. The researchers sought to determine if fish oil would reduce cykotine production during periods of stress.

The subject group included 68 first and second year medical students. Half of the group was randomly assigned to receive a fish oil supplement containing about 5 times as much omega-3 as a serving of salmon. The other half was assigned a placebo pill that contained the amount of omega-3s typically found in an average American diet.

The students provided blood samples, filled out food questionnaires, and underwent psychological surveys 6 times over a period of 12 weeks. The students receiving the omega-3 supplements reported a 20% reduction in anxiety compared to the placebo group. Blood tests also revealed a 14% reduction in IL-6, a type of cykotine, in the omega-3 supplement group.

The researchers believe that the omega-3 supplements combated the increased production of cykotine, which resulted in less inflammation in the body and fewer feelings of anxiety. Inflammation can be beneficial when the body is fighting off infections, but it can also exacerbate certain deadly diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have numerous other health benefits, including warding off age-related cognitive decline, combating diabetes and reducing the risk of age-related vision loss and heart failure.

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