Food ingredients may be as effective as antidepressants

1 min read

Researchers report that omega-3 fatty acids and uridine, two substances in foods such as fish, walnuts, molasses, and sugar beets, prevented depression in rats as effectively as antidepressant drugs.

“Giving rats a combination of uridine and omega-3 fatty acids produced immediate effects that were indistinguishable from those caused by giving the rats standard antidepressant medications,” explains lead author of the study William Carlezon, PhD, director of McLean’s Behavioral Genetics Laboratory.

Researchers examined how omega-3 fatty acids and uridine affected rats exposed to stress and found that rats given injections of or fed diets containing the nutrients showed less despair than untreated rats.

While uridine worked immediately, the effects of omega-3 fatty acids took longer to develop, and shorter treatments of omega -3 fatty acids alone did not relieve depression in the rats. Benefits emerged more quickly when the rats were given the nutrients together.

“Omega-3 fatty acids may make the mitochondrial membranes more flexible and uridine may provide raw material to make chemical reactions occur more readily,” adds co-author Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, director of McLean’s Brain Imaging Center.

“This work provides more evidence that our behavior can have a tremendous influence on how we feel and act,” says Carlezon.