The Anxiety-Killing Supplement

by Chris Shugart

Fish Oil vs. Feeling Anxious

It’s hard not to get anxious these days. However, excessive anxiety can be caused by a basic nutritional deficiency. Let’s at least fix that part.


Feeling anxious? Worried about the future? Stressed? Good! That means you’re a fully functioning human being. Without anxiety, your ancestors wouldn’t have been able to perceive threats, survive, and reproduce to eventually make you.

So when does anxiety become a problem or a diagnosable disorder? It’s a problem when it gets excessive and persistent, even when there’s nothing much happening in your life to freak out about. In short, it begins to interfere with your day-to-day life and affects your relationships or your job. Sometimes this is called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and it can snowball into other, more severe conditions.

If that’s the case, then clearly you need to be drugged into a drooling stupor by the pharmaceutical industry. Oh sure, those drugs have side effects like weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and difficulty thinking, but at least you’ll stop annoying everyone.

No, let’s not do that. Or, at least, let’s not whip out the prescription pad just yet. Why? Because certain aspects of anxiety are related to a basic nutritional deficiency, and we can fix that.

There’s a science-backed, natural way to decrease anxiety when it gets a little out of hand: omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA). In other words, fish oil. And the powerhouse omega-3 appears to be DHA.

Your Brain Runs on Omega-3s

Your brain requires omega-3 fatty acids to function properly, and your body can’t produce omega-3s on its own. They help maintain cell membrane fluidity and facilitate communication between brain cells. Without omega-3s, the production and function of neurotransmitters are hampered, inflammation sets in, and cognition declines. You can get depressed, moody, and even excessively anxious. Luckily, a 2018 review of 19 clinical trials using over two-thousand participants found that fish oil reduced anxiety.

Your gut is probably involved, too. One 2015 study suggests that DHA and EPA supplementation eases anxiety by restoring gut microbiota.

This makes sense. The gut-brain axis, as it’s known, is a two-way street linking the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) with the enteric nervous system (the neuron network in your gastrointestinal tract). The majority of serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation, is produced in your gut. And out-of-whack gut microbiota can cause all sorts of conditions, including “mental” struggles like depression and anxiety.

The Dose with the Most

Multiple studies point to the same conclusion: low levels of omega-3s may be associated with an increased risk of anxiety disorders. And for those of us without a diagnosed disorder, but who still battle the occasional anxious episode brought on by modern life, the use of fish oil seems to help.

But here’s the important part: the dose that helped the most in studies was at least 2,000 mg per day. Lower doses didn’t do the trick.

And while most studies look at DHA and EPA combined, DHA has the biggest impact on glucose utilization and neurotransmission. As one psychiatric journal put it, without the right amount of DHA, your brain is low on fuel and doesn’t send messages as well as it should.

How to Use This Info

First, this is not medical or psychiatric advice. Researchers are quick to say that people shouldn’t stop their current drug treatment for a diagnosed anxiety disorder. (They do, however, think that fish oil may one day be used to reduce the reliance on those drugs. But, as always, “more studies are needed.”)

For the rest of us, all signs point to using a high-dose, DHA-rich fish oil supplement to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Now, anxiety is a complex issue. It can involve environmental factors and even genetics. But it only makes sense to cover our bases and give the brain (and gut) what it needs to function healthfully and not “misfire” because of a lack of omega-3s.

Here’s the part where I try to sell you something, but it’s also what I personally use.

Remember, to get the biggest anxiety-walloping benefits, you need a big dose of omega-3s (more than you can typically get from food during a day), and you need more DHA than EPA. Most fish oil supplements don’t deliver enough total omega-3s and they’re imbalanced, containing more EPA than DHA.

Biotest’s Flameout DHA-rich fish oil (Buy at Amazon) contains 4200 mg of fish oil in triglyceride form per 3-capsule dose (2000 mg of DHA and 400 mg of EPA). That’s double or triple the potency of most fish oil, and more than enough to equal or surpass the amounts shown to reduce anxiety in studies. Along with all the other health benefits, daily use of Flameout provides the brain with what it needs to function optimally and thwart inflammation.

Anecdotally, many people use fish oil as a quick anxiety-reducing agent. They may not take it every day, but they pop three capsules whenever they feel their anxiety creeping up to disruptive levels. That protocol hasn’t been studied yet to my knowledge, but it’s a nice tool to keep in your back pocket when needed.

Flameout Buy-on-Amazon

References

References

  1. Kuan-Pin Su, MD, PhD, et al. Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms, A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(5):e182327. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.2327
  2. Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, et al. Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Nov; 25(8): 1725–1734.
  3. Matteo M. Pusceddu, et al. N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) Reverse the Impact of Early-Life Stress on the Gut Microbiota. Plos One, October 1, 201.
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This made me so anxious, I ordered some more today…I kid I kid…(about the anxious part)

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If you have Flameout on autoship is the new version being sent out or is there a certain amount of original formula that you have to go through 1st?

@mgsandbag2 I just peeked into the warehouse and it’s all the new formula. Should be the same on Amazon, too.

Are the softgels similar size to regular fish oil softgels? I’d hate to choke down 3 of those things :frowning:

Softgel sizes can vary among brands, but here’s a reference photo below. And keep in mind you might need 6 or 7 in other brands to get that amount of DHA.

They are around the same size as the original…

I ordered some to try. Is there a preferred time of day to take them, like morning evening, etc. Also, is there a stomach status that is preferred like empty stomach or with food?

With food typically, or with some dietary fat at least. Time of day really doesn’t matter, but there’s some evidence that taking fish oil before bed may help with nighttime anxiety or excess cortisol that interferes with sleep. That’s when I take mine.

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I believe there was an article here discussing taking it at night…I take it around dinner time - not that anyone asked.

Bedtime sounds good. But to take with food, I guess you eat something right before bed?

I think is “safe” to take without food if you’ve had dinner a couple hours before. That’s what I do.

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