In a recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry, researchers found that a high daily dose of an omega-3 supplement may help slow the effects of aging by suppressing damage and boosting protection during and after a stressful event.
They found that daily supplements that contained 2.5 grams of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, the highest dose tested, were the best at helping the body resist the damaging effects of stress.
The study is from the Ohio State University. One author is Annelise Madison.
In the study, 138 research participants, age 40-85, took either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of omega-3s each day, or a placebo containing a mix of oils representing a typical American’s daily intake.
The team found people taking omega-3 supplements produced less of the stress hormone cortisol and lower levels of a pro-inflammatory protein during a stressful event.
Only the highest dose of omega-3s helped suppress damage during the stressful event when compared to the placebo group, lowering cortisol and a pro-inflammatory protein by an average of 19% and 33%, respectively.
And while levels of protective compounds sharply declined in the group without omega-3 after the stressor, there were no such decreases detected in people taking omega-3s.
The supplements contributed to what the researchers call stress resilience: reduction of harm during stress and, after acute stress, sustained anti-inflammatory activity and protection of cell components that shrink as a consequence of aging.
The potential anti-aging effects were considered particularly striking because they occurred in people who were healthy but also sedentary, overweight and middle-aged—all characteristics that could lead to a higher risk for accelerated aging.
The findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation is one relatively simple change people could make that could have a positive effect on breaking the chain between stress and negative health effects.
The researchers also suggest that by lowering stress-related inflammation, omega-3s may help disrupt the connection between repeated stress and depressive symptoms.
Previous research has suggested that people with a higher inflammatory reaction to a stressor may develop more depressive symptoms over time.
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