Low DHA Linked to Anxiety

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

It has long been known that low levels of DHA are associated with depression, including major depressive disorder. It is now established that the anxiety component of such depression is especially pronounced in those lacking DHA.

DHA plays multiple vital roles in brain health, building itself into the cell membranes of all brain cells and assisting those cells to function normally. It also plays a primary role quenching inflammation in the brain, making powerful compounds called protectins and resolvins that are essential for brain tolerance of stress and brain recovery from stress. 

Anxiety is a condition reflected by excessive inflammation in the nerves, the nerves are simply “too hot.” This too hot situation essentially generates an ongoing 911 call, resulting in a level of ongoing anxiety. 

Individuals with anxiety should consider higher levels of DHA intake, ranging from 1000 mg to 3000 mg of DHA per day. There will be two types of response, short-term and long-term. In the short term, DHA will help quench brain inflammation and cool off the overheated nerves. In the long term, DHA will build itself gradually into nerve cell structure which will help nerves tolerate stress much more efficiently as well as promoting better cognitive skills and problem solving ability.

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