Associations of the Ratios of n-3 to n-6 Dietary Fatty Acids With Longitudinal Changes in Depressive Symptoms Among US Women

In the present study, we examined longitudinal changes in self-reported depressive symptoms (and related domains) in relation to baseline intakes of n-3 fatty acids (absolute and relative to n-6 fatty acids). Sex-specific associations were evaluated in a prospective cohort of adults (n = 2,053) from Baltimore, Maryland, who were 30-64 years of age at baseline and were followed for a mean of 4.65 (standard deviation, 0.93) years (2004-2013). Using mean intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids reported on two 24-hour dietary recalls, we estimated the ratios of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids for both highly unsaturated fatty acids (≥20 carbon atoms) (HUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (≥18 carbon atoms) (PUFAs). Outcomes included total and domain-specific scores on the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale. Based on mixed-effects regression models, among women, both higher n-3 HUFA:n-6 PUFA and n-3 PUFA:n-6 PUFA ratios were associated with a slower rate of increase in total Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scores over time. Higher n-3 HUFA:n-6 HUFA ratios were associated with slower increases in somatic complaints in men, whereas among women, higher n-3 HUFA:n-6 PUFA and n-3 PUFA:n-6 PUFA ratios were both linked to putative longitudinal improvement in positive affect over time. Among US adults, n-3:n-6 dietary fatty acid ratio was associated with longitudinal changes in depressive symptoms, with a higher ratio linked to a slower increase in depressive symptoms over time, particularly among women.