FoodFacts.com found some helpful information today regarding Omega-3s and postpartum depression.

A new study out of the University of Montreal has shown a possible link between levels of Omega-3s and this debilitating depression that occurs after giving birth in some women. Previously a link had been found between Omega-3 deficiencies and depression in mice.

Because omega-3 fatty acids are transmitted from the mother to her child while in utero and then after birth through breastfeeding, a deficiency can develop in the mother. This can cause an omega-3 deficiency to develop in the mother. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish and in certain nuts and seeds.

The research analyzed the data collected in 75 earlier studies on Omega-3 fatty acid levels and a gene known as the 5-HTT gene. This is the gene that controls the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a mood regulator in our brain. Typically, serotonin levels drop in pregnant women because tryptophan, the chemical used to produce serotonin is redirected to support the growing fetus. The research explored the idea that perhaps raising the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids might increase the 5-HTT gene and raise serotonin levels in the brain of the expectant mother … thereby alleviating depression.

It does appear that increased levels of Omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish, nuts and seeds can, in fact, have a positive effect on postpartum depression. Gabriel Shapiro, who led the study, commented, “The literature shows that there could be a link between pregnancy, omega-3 and the chemical reaction that enables serotonin, a mood regulator, to be released into our brains. So much of what we know about postpartum depression has to do with risk factors that are difficult, if not impossible to change – things like socioeconomic status, personal history of depression or genetic exposures.” This study would seem to point to a new direction, one which might be more easily treatable, and ultimately, solvable.

While FoodFacts.com understands that more research must be done to conclusively prove these findings, it would seem fairly simple for pregnant women to up their consumption of Omega-3 fatty acid rich fish, nuts and seeds – or to safely supplement with appropriate nutritionals under the guidance of their doctors.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2012/11/16/Omega-3-linked-to-postpartum-depression/UPI-62891353123360/ and
http://www.foodbeat.com/food-news/omega-3-and-postnatal-depression-could-eating-fish-help-postpartum-depression/