Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_270



Fatty acids are fat molecules that are ubiquitous in the diet and all living organisms. The long-chain, omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA, DHA) are known to be effective in reducing recurrence of heart disease events and in the treatment of depression. EPA and DHA are being studied in relation to heart disease prevention, various psychiatric disorders, eye health, cancer, immune function, and arthritis.


Basic Science

Biochemistry and Nutritional Sources

Triglycerides are the classic fat molecule and consist of three fatty acids bound to a 3-carbon glycerol backbone. Phospholipids are triglycerides in which a phosphate group has replaced one of the fatty acids. Phospholipids are the primary building block of all cell membranes.

Fatty acids are simple chains of carbons atoms of lengths between 6 and 22 with a carboxylic...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Readings

  1. Appleton, K. M., Rogers, P. J., & Ness, A. R. (2010). Updated systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on depressed mood. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(3), 757–770.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chow, C. K. (2008). Fatty acids in foods and their health implications (3rd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  3. Harris, W. S., Mozaffarian, D., Lefevre, M., Toner, C. D., Colombo, J., Cunnane, S. C., et al. (2009). Towards establishing dietary reference intakes for eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids. Journal of Nutrition, 139(4), 804S–819S.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kidd, P. M. (2007). Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: Clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Alternative Medicine Review, 12(3), 207–227.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Mozaffarian, D., & Rimm, E. B. (2006). Fish intake, contaminants, and human health: Evaluating the risks and the benefits. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 296(15), 1885–1899.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA