University of Oulu

van der Wurff, I.S.M., von Schacky, C., Bergeland, T. et al. Eur J Nutr (2019) 58: 1429.

Exploring the association between whole blood Omega-3 Index, DHA, EPA, DHA, AA and n-6 DPA, and depression and self-esteem in adolescents of lower general secondary education

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Author: van der Wurff, I. S. M.1; von Schacky, C.2,3; Bergeland, T.4;
Organizations: 1Welten Institute, Research Centre for Learning, Teaching, and Technology, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands
2Omegametrix, Martinsried, Germany
3Preventive Cardiology, Medical Clinic and Poli-Clinic I, Ludwig Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany
4Aker BioMarine Antarctic AS, Lysaker, Norway
5Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands
6Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (School NUTRIM), Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
7Care and Public Health Research Institute (School CAPHRI), Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
8University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-09-27


Purpose: Depression is common in adolescents and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are suggested to be associated with depression. However, research in adolescents is limited. Furthermore, self-esteem has never been studied in relation to LCPUFA. The objective here was to determine associations of depression and self-esteem with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Omega-3 Index (O3I), n-6 docosapentaenoic acid (n-6 DPA, also called Osbond acid, ObA), n-3 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and arachidonic acid (AA) concentrations in blood of adolescents attending lower general secondary education (LGSE).

Methods: Baseline cross-sectional data from a krill oil supplementation trial in adolescents attending LGSE with an O3I ≤ 5% were analysed using regression models built with the BayesFactor package in R. Fatty acids and O3I were determined in blood. Participants filled out the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale (RSE).

Results: Scores indicative of depression (CES-D ≥ 16) were found in 29.4% of the respondents. Of all fatty acids, we found extreme evidence [Bayes factor (BF) > 100] for a weak negative association between ObA and depression score [− 0.16; 95% credible interval (CI) −0.28 to −0.04; BF₁₀ = 245], and substantial evidence for a weak positive association between ObA and self-esteem score (0.09; 95% CI, −0.03 to 0.20; BF₁₀ = 4). When all fatty acids were put in one model as predictors of CES-D or RSE, all of the 95% CI contained 0, i.e., no significant association.

Conclusion: No evidence was found for associations of DHA, EPA and O3I with depression or self-esteem scores in LGSE adolescents with O3I ≤ 5%. The associations of higher ObA status with lower depression and higher self-esteem scores warrant more research.

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Series: European journal of nutrition
ISSN: 1436-6207
ISSN-E: 1436-6215
ISSN-L: 1436-6207
Volume: 58
Issue: 4
Pages: 1429 - 1439
DOI: 10.1007/s00394-018-1667-4
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
3141 Health care science
Funding: The study is funded by the Grant Food, Cognition and Behaviour from the Dutch Scientific Organisation (Grant number 057-13-002), Aker Biomarine (Norway) who provided the krill and placebo capsules, and Omegametrix (Germany) who was responsible for the blood analyses. CVS is owner of Omegametrix, who is responsible for the blood analyses in this study. TB is a former employee of Aker Biomarine, who is partly funding the study.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.