Oils extracted from fatty fish like sardines, anchovies, and mackerel provide two types of omega 3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – both of which boast an impressive range of health perks.
To name a few of the benefits of Omega 3s, they:
- Improve inflammatory conditions in the body
- Help reduce cardiovascular disease, as well as heart attacks and strokes
- Boost brain, nerve, and bone health
- Help reduce obesity
- Help keep musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and immune systems functioning at their best.
Research has confirmed that omega 3s may have an excellent effect on impacting degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and many more.
How about menopause symptoms?
From soothing hot flushes to smoothing your mood, taking fish oil benefits the menopause. It’s worth remembering that all of the essential fatty acids are building blocks of hormones themselves and you can only get them from your diet. Without a healthy diet rich in fat, the body won’t be able to produce the hormones it needs – not great news when your hormones are fluctuating anyway.
Omega 3s can help treat a range of menopausal symptoms, such as:
- Joint pain/menopause arthritis – Omega 3 fats can reduce inflammation, which may help relieve joint pain and stiffness related to menopause arthritis. Omega 3s work in a similar way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but are all natural and come with no side effects of their own.
- Menstrual pain – As your ovaries near the end of their active life, perimenopausal women often experience strong menstrual pain and cramping. This pain is often caused by substances called prostaglandins, which come in both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ form. Menopause promotes the bad kind, while omega 3s promote the good kind.
- Depression – The risk of suffering from depression is even greater following menopause. Irritability and sadness are common emotional symptoms of menopause, but omega 3s may help to alleviate these symptoms. They do important work to improve mood and restore structural integrity to brain cells that are critical in performing cognitive functions.
- Osteoporosis – An increased intake of omega 3 fatty acids increases bone mineral content and produces healthier, stronger bones. As menopause can increase a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis due to a drop in oestrogen levels, omega 3 fatty acids should be an essential part of a menopausal diet.
- Hot flushes – The frequency of hot flushes in women going through menopause can vary from as little as once a week to every 30 minutes. Some hot flushes last minutes, while others a mere few seconds. Studies have shown that while omega 3s may not affect the intensity of hot flushes, it can halve the frequency of the hot flushes with the right dosage.
- Vaginal dryness – Fatty acids help to lubricate the body in general, therefore helping with dryness of the vagina – a common symptom of menopause.
- Hypertriglyceridemia – Post-menopausal women may have higher triglyceride concentrations than pre-menopausal women, exposing them to increased risk of coronary heart disease. As omega 3 offers a triglyceride-lowering effect, many practitioners recommend menopausal women obtain a bare minimum 1g/day as via diet or supplementation.
When possible, getting omega 3 fatty acids through your diet is preferred. There are many foods that are excellent sources of omega 3s. These include:
- Oily fish, such as tuna, salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel
- Flaxseed and canola oil
- Walnuts and walnut oil
- Chia seeds
- Soya beans
- Marine microalgae
- Hempseed oil
Alternatively, you can source your omega 3 via a supplement.
My Just for Tummies Omega 3 capsules contain 400mg of EPA and 200mg DHA per 1000mg gel capsule. The oils are from a sustainable source of anchovies, fished in the deep Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Peru. Any contaminants in the fish oil are carefully removed using esterification processes, followed by molecular distillation to give a high-quality oil. You can purchase them here.
You can read more about the important role that fatty acids play in our health in this blog post, written by Medical Herbalist Lizzie Foulon here.
Having a healthy diet is important for hormone balance at any age, but at a time of such rapid fluctuation as the menopause, it’s essential. While taking natural supplements for the menopause is a great start, omega 3 should only be part of your lifestyle overhaul. If you’re suffering from hot flushes, identifying common triggers (like caffeine, alcohol, and sugar) and avoiding them can be helpful, as well as upping the levels of oestrogen-balancing lignans and flavonoids in your diet, by eating more soya products, chickpeas and flax.
This delicious and nutritious recipe for my Hormone-supporting Dark Chocolate, Seed, and Oat Cookies is a great way to get some omega 3s into your diet, particularly if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Exercise has also been shown to be invaluable, improving sleep, boosting mood and reducing your risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. Exercise that involves impact, such as running or weightlifting, are particularly beneficial for strengthening bones.
With all of these hormone soothers on your side, you’ll be well-placed to greet the menopause as an exciting new chapter in your life!
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