Omega 3 Consumption and Anxiety Disorders: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil)

Nutrients. 2018 May 24;10(6):663. doi: 10.3390/nu10060663.


Few studies have evaluated the association between diet and mental disorders, and it has been established that ω-3 (n-3) fatty acids may have a beneficial effect for sufferers of anxiety disorders. This study is part of the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil)—a population-based cohort study on diet and mental health—and searched for associations between anxiety disorders and consumption of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The study had a cross-sectional design, with a total sample of 12,268 adults. Dietary exposure was measured by a quantitative food-frequency questionnaire, and mental diagnoses were assessed by the Clinical Interview Schedule—Revised Version and diagnosed according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Logistic regression models were built using quintiles of n-3, ω 6 (n-6), n-6/n-3 ratio, and PUFA, using the 1st quintile as reference. Anxiety disorders were identified in 15.4% of the sample. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables, cardiovascular risk factors, diet variables, and depression, intakes in the 5th quintile were inversely associated with anxiety disorders for EPA (OR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.69⁻0.98), DHA (OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.69⁻0.98), and DPA (OR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.69⁻0.98). Participants in the fifth quintile of n-6/n-3 ratio had a positive association with anxiety disorders. Although results suggest a possible protective effect of n-3 fatty acids against anxiety, all associations lost significance after adjustment for multiple comparisons.

Keywords: anxiety disorders; mental disorders; nutrition intake; polyunsaturated fatty acids; ω-3 fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6