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Fish oil reduces mental stress

Fish oil reduces exam stress. In 2003, nutritionists at the University of Lausanne published the results of an experiment in which a three-week course of fish oil kept low the stress hormone levels of subjects exposed to mental stress.

Stress hormones
In terms of hormones, stress starts in the hypothalamus, the gland that produces a number of hormones including CRH. CRH stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete ACTH, and ACTH prompts the adrenals to make the real stress hormone, cortisol. So might taking fish oil supplements block this process? That's the question the researchers wanted to answer.

They gave seven students a small amount of concentrated fish oil every day for three weeks. Each day the subjects took 6 capsules containing 1200 mg fish oil 2 capsules with each large meal. This way the subjects ingested 1.1 g EPA and 0.7 g EHA each day.

Before and after the supplementation, the researchers subjected the students to a whole battery of mental tests that you would expect to cause mental stress. The tests lasted half an hour.

The figure below shows what happened to the subjects' cortisol levels. The black squares represent the students after they'd taken the course of fish oil capsules. The white squares represent the students before taking the fish oil.

Fish oil reduces mental stress

Fish oil reduces mental stress

The table above shows that the concentration of epinephrine [adrenalin] was significantly lower in the fish-oil group.

The researchers also measured the growth hormone level in the subjects' blood. This was not significantly lower in the fish-oil group. If fish oil has an effect on your brain, you'd expect it to also reduce the production of growth hormone. The researchers therefore suspect that fish oil to a large extent at least works directly via the adrenals.

More research
Chronic stress speeds up the aging process, according to molecular studies. According to other molecular studies, fish oil actually slows down aging.

Diabetes Metab. 2003 Jun; 29(3): 289-95.

Grape Seed Extract blocks glucocorticoid receptor 05.08.2009
Quercetin reduces cortisol peak after stress 30.05.2009

Blocking Cortisol
Fish Oil

One capsule of fish oil daily lowers cortisol levels
A modest dose of one gram of fish oil per day lowers cortisol levels, write Italian researchers in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

Mild depression disappears after taking fish oil for three weeks
Supplementation with a hefty dose of fish oil can get rid of a mild depression completely within three weeks.

Fish oil protects for up to seven years against psychoses
Fish oil offers protection against psychoses, concluded psychiatrists at the Medical University of Vienna a couple of years ago after doing a small study in which they gave young people at risk fish-oil capsules for 12 weeks.