Fish oil can help improve mental health among active duty soldiers

active duty soldiers

Fish oil has many health benefits, such as reducing symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease and eye disorders. This is mainly because it is one nature’s richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

In a recent study, researchers find that fish oil may help improve mental health among soldiers returning from combat. The finding is published in Military Medicine.

Researchers from Texas A&M University, U.S. Military-Baylor University, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, and Brain Health Education and Research Institute conducted the study.

They focused on whether blood fatty acid levels, vitamin D status, and/or physical activity are associated with physical fitness, mood, and resiliency in active duty soldiers.

100 active duty males at Fort Hood, Texas, underwent psychometric tests, body fatness measurements, and fitness tests. They also provided fasting blood samples for fatty acid and vitamin D analysis.

The analysis showed significant relations among psychological tests, body fatness measurements, physical performance, physical inactivity (sitting time), and fatty acid as well as vitamin D blood levels.

Based on these findings, researchers developed an equation to predict a depressed mood status determined by the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. The equation could accurate predicted depressed mood in 80% of soldiers.

Researchers suggest that the decrease in physical activity and the concentration of fish oil and Omega-3s in the blood were all associated with resiliency and mood.

Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids that help to boost brain function. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory within the body — helping athletes and soldiers manage intense training better.

Furthermore, fish oil content is especially important for soldiers due to the consistent training and physical regiments performed in and out of combat and risk to traumatic brain injury.

Researchers believe the finding to be significant toward addressing some of the mental health issues many soldiers face.

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Citation: Barringer ND, et al. (2016). Fatty Acid Blood Levels, Vitamin D Status, Physical Performance, Activity, and Resiliency: A Novel Potential Screening Tool for Depressed Mood in Active Duty Soldiers. Military Medicine, 181: 1114-1120. DOI: 10.7205/MILMED-D-15-00456.
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.