Researchers found giving rats exposed to a stressful environment extra doses of omega-3s resulted in a reduction of the kinds of mental and physical damage that normally occur under such circumstances (published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Exposure to stress while growing up can lead to long-term adverse health effects such as memory problems, depression, risk addiction and general anxiety. It can also lead to changes in intestinal bacteria levels. To learn more about the health effects of stress on rats, the researchers created a stressful environment for a group of tests rats—each was repeatedly isolated and moved to cages holding mice they did not know. Blood and behavior tests showed that the rats had indeed felt stressed and consequently suffered adverse long-term health effects.
The researchers report that the rats that had received omega-3s and vitamin A scored roughly the same as juvenile rats not exposed to the stressful environment on memory and emotional tests and also on physical tests, including intestinal bacterial levels. They further report that they found no sign of the kind of long-term adverse health impacts normally associated with juvenile exposure to a stressful environment.