A team of researchers has found that certain nutritional supplements can increase the effectiveness of anti-depressants in people suffering from depression.
The findings showed that Omega 3 fish oils, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)*, methylfolate (bioactive form of folate) and Vitamin D, were all found to boost the effects of medication and can also be used as a mood enhancing therapy when taken with antidepressants.
The researchers from the University of Melbourne and Harvard analysed 40 clinical trials, alongside a systematic review of the evidence for using nutrient supplements -- known as nutraceuticals -- to treat depression in tandem with antidepressants.
"The strongest finding from our review was that Omega 3 fish oil -- in combination with antidepressants -- had a statistically significant effect over a placebo," said led author Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Many studies have shown Omega 3s are very good for general brain health and improving mood, but this is the first analysis of studies that looks at using them in combination with antidepressant medication.
"The difference for patients taking both antidepressants and Omega 3, compared to a placebo, was highly significant. This is an exciting finding because here we have a safe, evidence-based approach that could be considered a mainstream treatment," Sarris added in the paper published in American Journal of Psychiatry.
They reported mixed results for zinc, vitamin C and tryptophan (an amino acid). Folic acid did not work particularly well, nor did inositol.
"Medical practitioners are aware of the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, but are probably unaware that one can combine them with antidepressant medication for a potentially better outcome," Sarris stated.
"We're not telling people to rush out and buy buckets of supplements. Always speak to your medical professional before changing or initiating a treatment," Sarris noted.