Dietary fish, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption, and depression risk in Japan: a population-based prospective cohort study

Transl Psychiatry. 2017 Sep 26;7(9):e1242. doi: 10.1038/tp.2017.206.


Systematic review of observational studies has revealed that fish consumption and levels of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid are associated with a reduced risk of depression. A reverse J-shaped effect of n-3 PUFAs was suggested. However, there is limited evidence from populations with high fish consumption and no studies have used a standard psychiatrist-based diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). Therefore, this population-based, prospective study investigated the association of dietary fish, n-3 PUFA, and n-6 PUFA consumption with risk of psychiatrist-diagnosed MDD in Japan. A total of 12 219 subjects were enrolled from the Saku area in 1990. Of these, we extracted 1181 participants aged 63-82 years who completed food frequency questionnaires in both 1995 and 2000 and also underwent a mental health examination in 2014-2015. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for MDD according to fish intake and PUFA quartiles were calculated. Current MDD was diagnosed in 95 patients. We found a reduced risk of MDD in the third quartile for fish intake (111.1 g per day, OR=0.44, 95% CI=0.23-0.84), second quartile for EPA (307.7 mg per day, OR=0.54, 95% CI=0.30-0.99) and third quartile for docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) (123.1 mg per day, OR=0.42, 95% CI=0.22-0.85). ORs adjusted for cancer, stroke, myocardial infarction and diabetes remained significant for fish and DPA intake. Our results suggest that moderate fish intake could be recommended for the prevention of MDD in aged Japanese individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6