An Exploratory Analysis of Changes in Mental Wellbeing Following Curcumin and Fish Oil Supplementation in Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Nutrients. 2020 Sep 23;12(10):2902. doi: 10.3390/nu12102902.


Curcumin has previously been shown to enhance mood in non-depressed older adults. However, observed benefits were limited to short-term supplementation (4 weeks). In a 16 week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2 × 2 factorial design trial, we supplemented overweight or obese non-depressed adults (50-80 years) with curcumin (160 mg/day), fish oil (2000 mg docosahexaenoic acid +400 mg eicosapentaenoic acid/day), or a combination of both. Secondary outcomes included mental wellbeing measures (mood states and subjective memory complaints (SMCs)) and quality of life (QoL). Furthermore, plasma apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) was measured to determine whether APOE4 status influences responses to fish oil. Curcumin improved vigour (p = 0.044) compared to placebo and reduced SMCs compared to no curcumin treatment (p = 0.038). Fish oil did not affect any mood states, SMCs or QoL; however, responses to fish oil were affected by APOE4 status. In APOE4 non-carriers, fish oil increased vigour (p = 0.030) and reduced total mood disturbances (p = 0.048) compared to placebo. Improvements in mental wellbeing were correlated with increased QoL. Combining curcumin with fish oil did not result in additive effects. This exploratory analysis indicates that regular supplementation with either curcumin or fish oil (limited to APOE4 non-carriers) has the potential to improve some aspects of mental wellbeing in association with better QoL.

Keywords: APOE4; curcumin; fish oil; mood; randomized controlled trial; subjective memory complaints.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Aged
  • Apolipoprotein E4 / blood
  • Curcumin
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Quality of Life


  • Apolipoprotein E4
  • Fish Oils
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • Curcumin

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