Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that can help relieve some conditions related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Studies suggest it can help relieve your period pain.
Research also shows that fish oil can reduce triglycerides and reduce insulin resistance.
Fish oil can be especially helpful for women with PCOS due to the increased risk of heart disease and increased triglyceride levels that exist in people with the condition. However, a recent study showed that dietary supplements may not be as effective at reducing the risk of heart disease as previously thought.Your best bet? To add more oily fish to your diet instead of relying on supplements.
What is fish oil?
Stored in the fat of cold water fish, fish oil is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fat that is rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids that the body cannot manufacture and that can only be obtained from food or supplements. These essential fatty acids are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and a building block for hormones that regulate blood clotting and inflammation.
Out of balance
The standard American diet tends to be deficient in omega-3 fats while also being high in omega-6 fats, another polyunsaturated fat.Omega-6 fatty acids are mainly found in vegetable oils, which are commonly used in baked goods and fried foods.
Because of this abundance of omega-6 fatty acids in the Western diet, the recommended ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids has become out of whack, leading to an increase in obesity, according to one study.According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the optimal ratio is undefined and too unspecific for the average person. Instead, the NIH generally recommends that increasing your omega-3 intake is more important than working on reducing your omega-6 intake.This also applies to women with PCOS.
Adding fish oil to your diet
To get the most of the health benefits of omega-3 rich fish oil in your diet, the best method is to simply eat more fish. But another alternative is to take fish oil supplements, although the evidence has shown this to be a little more complicated: consuming more oily fish seems to protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD) and many CVD results, but newer ones Studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may not offer the same level of protection.The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of cold water fish per week.
Mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, blue bass, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids and provide about 1 gram of essential fats per 3.5-ounce serving, or about 3/4 Cup of scaly fish.Make sure you cook them grilled or fried, not fried, to best preserve their benefits.
Taking fish oil supplements
Fish oil is generally safe and well tolerated by most people, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, when taken in low doses (less than 3 grams per day). Be sure to look for a dietary supplement that uses small fish like anchovies or sardines instead of tuna, for example, to limit mercury exposure.
The currently recommended daily allowance for adult women is 1.1 grams.
Studies suggest that the following doses of fish oil can help with a variety of medical conditions:
- High triglycerides: 1 to 4 grams per day
- Painful menstruation: 300 milligrams (mg) omega-3 (180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA), especially in combination with 200 IU of vitamin E.
- Increase in insulin sensitivity: 1 to 4 grams per day
Some people may experience unpleasant side effects such as fishy burp when taking fish oil supplements. Taking fish oil with meals or keeping supplements in the freezer can help prevent this from happening.
Talk to your doctor
Before taking fish oil, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor to determine if a supplement is right for you and how much to take.
Patients taking blood thinners such as aspirin, Lovenox, Coumadin, or heparin should not take fish oil as this can increase the risk of bleeding.
Patients taking medication for high blood pressure should also be careful when taking fish oil, as the combination can lower blood pressure too drastically.
Birth control pills can interfere with the triglyceride-lowering effects of fish oil, and women should be careful when combining these drugs.
Do not take fish oil supplements if you are allergic to fish.