There are different types of Omega-3 fatty acids. The form found in plants (ALA or alpha linolenic acid) is the only form considered essential, but researchers are finding EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) to be the key Omega 3 fat therapeutic for depression. There is no question that the best food source of EPA is fish, other seafood, and fish eggs. However, if you are allergic, seafood and the fish oil family supplements themselves are a very bad idea.
If you are allergic to fish but need to improve your Omega 3 fatty acid status, you can take a three-pronged strategy:
1) Reduce your Omega 6 intake.
It’s all about balance. The reason our society is so deficient in Omega 3s is not only because we do not consume enough but because we consume too much Omega 6 fat in vegetable oils. Make smarter choices about your oils in particular and this will, in essence, reduce your Omega 3 need.
2) Add ALA to your diet.
Your body does convert some ALA to EPA, so flax oil and other high ALA foods are a good strategy for your when your EPA options are limited. Add flax oil or ground flax seed to any of my meals that would accommodate the flavor. Flax oil is great on salads or drizzled over grains and casseroles. Keep your oil or ground seed refrigerated to avoid rancidity and add these items to meals after they are cooked (for instance, drizzle the oil over cooked quinoa).
3) Try some wild meats and liver.
Actual EPA is going to be your best bet in fighting depression but if you are allergic to fish and seafood, you might consider eating meat from wild game or, better yet, their livers. The meat from wild game will have some EPA, although it would not be at all in the same league as fish. For a comparison, read more about grass fed beef and Omega 3s (grass fed beef probably approximates generally the nutrient profile of wild game).
The more adventuresome option still is to eat the actual liver. Look for liver from cattle or sheep raised on pasture. Note the great differences in the EPA content of beef liver between steers raised on grass and those on grain: beef liver and Omega 3s.
Most of us can guzzle some fish oil or pop a fish oil capsule to improve our EPA status. But if you are allergic to fish, you will have to work a bit harder on improving your diet. Best of luck.