Study finds omega-3 pills may protect against stress and reduce aging

Taking omega-3 supplements, which are readily available at most health food stores and pharmacies, may help protect against the damaging effects of stress. That's according to a new study from The Ohio State University, where researchers studied the effects of up to 2.5 grams of omega-3 supplements taken daily, finding benefits when it came to inflammation and cortisol resulting from stress.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in a variety of foods, most notably cold-water fish like salmon, and they've been linked to a number of health benefits. Most omega-3 studies tend to focus on heart health, but this latest research instead looks at the supplement's effect on stress and the damage it causes on the body.

The study found that taking the supplement daily may offer protection against cellular damage caused by stress, reduce the levels of cortisol, and cut down on pro-inflammatory protein levels that occur under stress. This 'stress resilience,' as the researchers call it, likewise may help slow down aging.

The researchers note that the possible anti-aging effects were even found in people who were healthy — with the researchers noting that these healthy people were middle-aged, overweight, and lived sedentary lifestyles. Such lifestyle factors are linked to more rapid aging, which makes the omega-3 protective effect 'particularly striking,' the study notes.

The study's testing topped out with a dosage of 2.5 grams of omega-3 supplements per day — and that dose was also the most beneficial when it came to protecting against stress-related damage. The research involved 138 participants who took either 1.25 grams or 2.5 grams of omega-3 supplements daily for four months (as well as a placebo group).

The researchers note that only the highest dose offered protection during stress when contrasted with the participants who received a placebo. Both doses offered sustained benefits at the cellular level after the event, however.