Fishy Things That Make You Go Hmm…

I love a Walter Willett study, but a recent one entitled “Dietary Intake of N-3 and N-6 Fatty Acids and the Risk of Clinical Depression in Women: a 10 Year Prospective Follow-Up Study” is bittersweet for me. A victory for omega-3s. Another strike against excess omega-6s. But no noted benefits from fish, one of my top brain foods?! That is hard to digest.

I do have to raise the point that eating to promote brain wellness is different than the treatment of clinical mood disorder. It is also tempting to pick apart the study a bit – not all fish are created equal. Wild salmon will have 3000 miligrams of EPA and DHA (per 6oz filet), the long chain fats I believe are linked to better brain health, while farmed tilapia has very little of these. And what about all the other brain nutrients in fish, like zinc, iodine, B12?

This is only a study of women, so I’m going to keep enjoying my fish (sorry ladies). But it is always tough when big studies like this run contradictory to the advice I give patients, that seafood is brain food. And while this study doesn’t show a conclusive correlation between fish and the prevention of mood disorders, I still argue that the right seafood is packed with essential brain nutrients.

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Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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