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Observations placeholder

ALA and depression in women



Type of Spiritual Experience


I think the inclusion of LA in the findings is a bit of a red herring.  I can see no reason why LA would have any effect one way or the other.

The only way in which LA might have a positive effect is provided the fuel for immune reactions to viruses, bacteria and so on that might in the long term cause the depression

A description of the experience

Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jun;93(6):1337-43. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.011817. Epub 2011 Apr 6.  Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of clinical depression in women: a 10-y prospective follow-up study.  Lucas M1, Mirzaei F, O'Reilly EJ, Pan A, Willett WC, Kawachi I, Koenen K, Ascherio A.  Departments of Nutrition and Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.

BACKGROUND: The associations between different sources of dietary n-3 (omega-3) and n-6 (omega-6) fatty acids and the risk of depression have not been prospectively studied.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to examine the relation between different n-3 and n-6 types with clinical depression incidence.

DESIGN: We prospectively studied 54,632 US women from the Nurses' Health Study who were 50-77 y of age and free from depressive symptoms at baseline. Information on diet was obtained from validated food-frequency questionnaires. Clinical depression was defined as reporting both physician-diagnosed depression and regular antidepressant medication use.

RESULTS: During 10 y of follow-up (1996-2006), 2823 incident cases of depression were documented.

  • Intake of long-chain n-3 fatty acids from fish was not associated with depression risk [relative risk (RR) for 0.3-g/d increment: 0.99; 95% CI: 0.88, 1.10],
  • α-linolenic acid (ALA) intake was inversely associated with depression risk (multivariate RR for 0.5-g/d increment: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.71, 0.94).

The inverse association between ALA and depression was stronger in women with low linoleic acid (LA) intake (P for interaction = 0.02): a 0.5-g/d increment in ALA was inversely associated with depression in the first, second, and third LA quintiles [RR (95% CI): 0.57 (0.37, 0.87), 0.62 (0.41, 0.93), and 0.68 (0.47, 0.96), respectively] but not in the fourth and fifth quintiles.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this large longitudinal study do not support a protective effect of long-chain n-3 from fish on depression risk. Although these data support the hypothesis that higher ALA and lower LA intakes reduce depression risk, this relation warrants further investigation.

PMID: 21471279

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps





Linoleic acid