When it comes to the most common daily supplements, fish oil is definitely up there thanks to its research-backed heart health benefits. But did you know that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil could actually protect your body from stress-induced signs of aging too?
Scientists at The Ohio State University recently published a new study in Molecular Psychiatry looking at how omega-3 supplements affected the body’s reaction to stress. Omega-3 supplements are often associated with heart health due to their ability to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and calm inflammation. Based on some of these previous findings, researchers wondered if the same properties could also fight symptoms of stress. Their study split 138 middle-aged participants into several groups for four months, one who received a daily 2.5-gram omega-3 fatty acid supplement, one who received a daily 1.25-gram omega-3 dosage, and third one who received a placebo for the same length of time.
The results showed that those who took the fatty acid supplement saw two important changes: Compared to the placebo group, they produced less of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to weight gain, fatigue, and high blood pressure, as well as fewer proteins that cause inflammation. Researchers also observed that participants taking the omega-3 supplement prolonged the effects of stress-fighting compounds, whereas placebo-taking participants saw a decrease in those same protective molecules. When these compounds are sustained over time, the body is able to fend off harmful, long-term stress damage that contributes to aging.
If you don’t want stress to take as hard of a toll on your body, adding an omega-3 supplement like fish oil (Buy on Amazon, $8.97) might be a good start. “The findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation is one relatively simple change people could make that could have a positive effect at breaking the chain between stress and negative health effects,” explained Annelise Madison, a graduate student and the lead author of the paper. Just be sure to talk to your doctor beforehand as you would for any new supplement regimen. It’s always good to get a medical opinion before trying anything.
And while the research is promising, it shouldn’t be the only way to protect yourself from stress! Getting a full eight hours of sleep every night, eating a well-balanced diet, and exercising regularly are all important stress fighters.
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