Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Nicotine Cravings
Cigarette smoking reduces the levels of omega-3 in the brain. Omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker’s body to overcome it’s craving for another cigarette. A recent study suggests that omega-3 supplements may reduce nicotine cravings, and may help smokers reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke.
Participants in the study included 48 smokers between the ages of 18 and 45 who smoked at least 10 cigarettes per day during the previous year and an average of 14 per day at the beginning of the study. The average age they started smoking was under 18 and the average age at the time of the study was 29, which means they had been smoking for an average of 11 years.
Over the course of thirty days, half of the group took five omega-3 capsules that contained 2710 mg of EPA and 2040 mg of DHA while the other half took a placebo.
The researchers measured levels of nicotine cravings and cigarette consumption including lack of control over tobacco use, anticipation of relief and satisfaction from smoking, and number of cigarettes smoked each day. These were assessed by asking the participants to not smoke for two hours and then exposing them to smoking-related images at the beginning of the study, after 30 days, and after 60 days (30 days after treatment ended).
The researchers found no difference between the omega-3 and the placebo group at the beginning of the study. However, at the thirty-day mark, the supplement group had reduced their cigarette consumption by an average of two per day (11% decrease), even though they hadn’t been asked to change their habits. They also had noticeable reductions in nicotine cravings. At the 60-day mark, 30 days after finishing the treatment, there was a slight increase in nicotine cravings but it was still significantly lower than pre-treatment levels.
The placebo group showed no changes.
Researchers from the University of Haifa in Israel conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 4, 2014, in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
DHA and EPA are the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, better moods, and aiding your immune system.
Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s. If you don’t like fish, consider taking a daily high quality non-fish supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.