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How Fish Oil May Help Veterans

Low concentration of fish oil in the blood and lack of physical activity may contribute to the high levels of depressed mood among soldiers returning from combat, according to recent research.

Researchers worked with 100 soldiers at Fort Hood to identify which factors affected moods in returning soldiers in a study titled “Fatty Acid Blood Levels, Vitamin D Status, Physical Performance, Activity and Resiliency: A Novel Potential Screening Tool for Depressed Mood in Active Duty Soldiers.”

The study looked at numerous factors thought to play a role in mood, including physical activity levels and fitness and psychometric assessments. "We looked at how physical activity levels and performance measures were related to mood state and resiliency," Texas A & M Health & Kinesiology Professor and Department Head Richard Kreider says. "What we found was the decrease in physical activity and the concentration of fish oil and Omega-3s in the blood were all associated with resiliency and mood."

Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids that help boost brain function. Studies also suggest fish oil also acts as an anti-inflammatory, helping athletes and soldiers manage intense training better. Fish oil is especially important to soldiers due to the consistent training performed in and out of combat and risk of traumatic brain injury.

The study originated from research conducted by Colonel Mike Lewis, M.D. who examined Omega-3 fatty acid levels of soldiers who committed suicide. When compared to a non-suicide control group, lower Omega-3 levels in the blood were associated with increased risk of being in the suicide group.

"By improving resiliency in service members, we can potentially decrease the risk of mental health issues," says Major Nicholas Barringer, a Texas A & M doctoral student and head researcher. "Early identification can potentially decrease the risk of negative outcomes for our active service members as well as our separated and retired military veterans."


The above post is reprinted from material provided by Brain Health Education and Research Institute.

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