The multibillion-dollar supplement industry spews many dubious claims, but a new study suggests that some nutritional supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, may boost the effectiveness of antidepressants. If so, the supplements might help relieve symptoms for the millions of people who don’t immediately respond to these drugs.
The meta-analysis—published Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry—reviewed the results of 40 clinical trials that evaluated the effects of taking nutritional supplements in conjunction with several major classes of antidepressants. It revealed that four supplements in particular upped the potency of the medications, compared with a placebo.
For brain health, all—or at least most—roads lead to the sea. Many small trials have reported associations between omega-3 fatty acids—obtained either through diet or supplements—and improved depression symptoms. In practice, omega-3s derived from fish appear to reach significantly higher blood levels than those sourced from plants. And there is a fast accumulating body of data linking a reduced risk for depression to traditional diets—including the Mediterranean, Scandinavian and Japanese diets—that are high in vegetables, whole grains and fish.
– Bret Stetka