Fish oil and exercise: natural remedies for poor mood in vets

Harold Mandel's picture
Military men

Researchers say high levels of depressed mood in soldiers returning from combat may be due to low levels of fish oil and lack of physical activity.

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There has been a great deal of concern about the mental health of American soldiers after they return home from active duty. In order to maintain good mental health veterans must adhere to a good diet and healthy active lifestyle.

Mood in veterans may be improved with fish oil

Texas A&M University has reported that mood in veterans may be improved with fish oil. According to researchers which include a Texas A&M University professor and his previous doctoral student, high levels of depressed mood seen in soldiers who return from combat may be due to low blood concentrations of fish oil and lack of adequate physical activity.

In this study the researchers worked with 100 soldiers at Fort Hood in order to make a determination of what factors affected mood in soldiers who were returning from active duty. Major Nicholas Barringer conducted the study while he was a Texas A&M doctoral student under the direction of Health & Kinesiology Professor and Department Head Richard Kreider, along with several current and former members of the U.S. Army, and associates at Texas A&M.

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Physical activity levels are associated with mood state

Kreider says they investigated how physical activity levels and performance measures were associated with mood state and resiliency. They discovered that a decrease in physical activity and the blood level of fish oil and Omega-3s in the blood had an association with resiliency and mood. Kreider has explained that fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids which help to improve brain function.

Studies have shown that fish oil acts as an anti-inflammatory agent within the body. This helps athletes and soldiers deal better with intense training. Fish oil content is particularly important for soldiers due to the consistent training and physical regiments which are done in and out of combat and the risk to traumatic brain injury.

Barringer has said that he believes these findings are significant towards addressing some of the issues which many soldiers are confronted with. He feels it is exciting to consider that a good diet and exercise may actually directly impact resiliency. It is the position of Barringer that we can potentially lower the risk of mental health issues in soldiers by improving resiliency.

This study has been published in the journal Military Medicine. Further studies are justified to continue to evaluate the impact which exercise and diet have on resiliency and decreasing depressed mood in soldiers. All along it should be kept in mind that our soldiers need support before, during, and after their active duty.

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