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Br J Nutr. 2017 Nov;118(9):743-749. doi: 10.1017/S0007114517002768.

DHA mediates the protective effect of fish consumption on new episodes of depression among women.

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1Menzies Institute for Medical Research,University of Tasmania,Private Bag 23, Hobart, Tasmania 7000,Australia.
4Computational Medicine,Faculty of Medicine,University of Oulu, PO Box 5000, 90014 Oulu,Finland.


In a longitudinal cohort study of young Australian adults, we reported that for women higher baseline levels of fish consumption were associated with reduced incidence of new depressive episodes during the 5-year follow-up. Fish are high in both n-3 fatty acids and tyrosine. In this study, we seek to determine whether n-3 fatty acids or tyrosine explain the observed association. During 2004-2006, a FFQ (nine fish items) was used to estimate weekly fish consumption among 546 women aged 26-36 years. A fasting blood sample was taken and high-throughput NMR spectroscopy was used to measure 233 metabolites, including serum n-3 fatty acids and tyrosine. During 2009-2011, new episodes of depression since baseline were identified using the lifetime version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Relative risks were calculated using log-binomial regression and indirect effects estimated using the STATA binary_mediation command. Potential mediators were added to separate models, and mediation was quantified as the proportion of the total effect due to the mediator. The n-3 DHA mediated 25·3 % of the association between fish consumption and depression when fish consumption was analysed as a continuous variable and 16·6 % when dichotomised (reference group: <2 serves/week). Tyrosine did not mediate the association (<0·1 %). Components in fish other than n-3 fatty acids and tyrosine might be beneficial for women's mental health.


n-3 Fatty acids; CDAH Childhood Determinants of Adult Health; DGI dietary guideline index; DV dependent variable; LNAA large neutral amino acids; Depression; Fish; Tyrosine; Young adults

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