A recent study published in the journal Nutrients found that people who consume salmon, a food containing some of the highest amounts of vitamin D, experienced reduced anxiety compared to people who consumed alternative meals.
Vitamin D is only found in small amounts in food sources, and it is very hard to get the daily vitamin D needed relying on dietary sources alone. However, one of the few food sources that contains high amounts of vitamin D is fatty fish, such as salmon.
Fatty fish has been shown to have various beneficial effects on health due to its high nutrient density, which includes nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Research shows that vitamin D, in particular, may be linked to mental health.
Recently, researchers conducted a study to evaluate the effects of fatty fish on anxiety. They divided 95 male criminal inpatients into two groups.
One group received Atlantic salmon three times a week from September through February. The other group received an alternative meal with chicken, pork, or beef for three times a week.
Heart rate, heart rate variability, and state-trait anxiety were tested before and after the 23 weeks. State anxiety refers to anxiety about a situation or an event, whereas trait anxiety is a personal characteristic, rather than a temporary feeling.
The researchers found that the group that ate salmon experienced significant improvements in heart rate variability and heart rate, and significant reduction in state-anxiety. Vitamin D status was significantly and positively related to heart rate variability.
“Overall, the present findings showed that Atlantic salmon consumption caused improvements in both heart rate variability and heart rate, as well as reductions in state-anxiety in a sample of male forensic inpatients,” the researchers concluded.