Anti-Depressants and Nutrient Supplements: An Effective Combination?

Written by Sadie Wirthlin

Depression is a condition that affects millions of people. Depending on the severity, conditions may require medications and the results may vary. Early research is being done on how to make these medications more effective, and one promising avenue is to pair anti-depressant medication with certain supplements. Recent research suggests omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D supplements may useful to depressed patients for this reason.

The American Journal of Psychiatry recently published a review of past studies on the use of anti-depressants combined with omega-3s, vitamin D, and zinc (read more). Researchers found that anti-depressant medication potency increased in patients that took the medication paired with omega-3s and vitamin D. Omega-3s had the most powerful effect, while zinc had mixed results.

Researchers speculate that supplements might make antidepressants more effective by affecting neurotransmitter activity. Supplements may also help reduce inflammation, a known contributor to depression. The ARCADIA Mental Health Research Group states that omega-3 fatty acids produce biological activity that may improve one’s mood. The question still remains, however, whether the pairing of anti-depressant medication and nutritional supplements is an interactive effect or simply two individual mood elevators.


There is still a lot of learning to be done when it comes to anti-depressants and the way that they work. Some data suggests that there is a percentage of responses (30-45%) due to a placebo effect. Regarding the effect of nutrient supplements, there are concerns about the sample size of studies and the quality and purity of nutritional supplements. Some supplements do not contain what their packaging suggests, for example.

Further studies need to be done, but combining the use of particular nutritional supplements and anti-depressant medication may be a low cost way to improve treatment results. Consulting with a doctor about what medications and supplements to take is strongly encouraged.

Source: Why You Might Want to Start Taking Fish Oil. Alexandra Sifferlin. April 26, 2016.

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