People who have a diet rich in fish and fish products are less likely to become depressed, a new study suggests.
Chinese researchers looked at 26 studies which involved a total number of 150,278 participants in the hopes of finding a link between fish consumption and depression.
The results of the study conducted in Europe showed that those who had a larger fish intake on a regular basis, were 17% less likely to become depressed than those who ate smaller amounts of fish.
When analysing the same data only by gender, researchers found that women who had a diet rich in fish had the risk of getting depressions lowered by 16%, compared to women who did not eat as much fish. Men who ate the most fish had their risk of depression cut down to 20%, as opposed to men who ate less fish.
The same study was conducted in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Oceania, but the link between lower depression risk and high fish intake were only found in Europe by researchers. “This might [be] because a smaller number of participants cannot reach statistical significance easily,” suggested the author of the study Fang Li of Qingdao University, China.
The results of the study were merely observational, since researchers could not establish a cause and effect connection between a diet rich in fish and the risk of depression, thus making this a controversial topic. Moreover further research is needed in order to see whether or not the type of fish that people consume tackles depression in different ways, Li said.
Although it is not quite sure how fish consumption can lead to lower risk of depression, researchers say that there are several things that could make this possible.
Fish is know to be rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are able to modify the the way in which brain cell membranes are structured. The fatty acids found in fish may also be in charge of modifying the activity of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters which in some cases are believed to be involved in depression.
High quality vitamins, minerals and proteins found in fish meat may also lead to lower chances of becoming depressed. It could also be that people who consume more fish are generally healthier and by association less exposed to the risk of depression, suggests Fang Li.
The study was published on September 10 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
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