Fish Oil Improves Mood


Fish oil offers numerous benefits to women with PCOS, including boosting mood. There’s no question that women with PCOS suffer from more mood disorders such as depression and anxiety than those without the syndrome. For some women, mood issues can be a result of dealing with all the problems PCOS brings: dramatic body image issues, fluctuations in blood sugar, loss of control over weight, difficulty managing the syndrome, infertility, and lack of support. Mood disorders can also be brought on by hormone imbalances. There is some good news for the millions of women who struggle with mood problems: omega-3 fatty acids, particularly the kind that come from fish, may help manage mood.

About Fish Oil

The two main types of fish oils are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All of us need these omega-3 fats from our diets as our bodies can’t make them. That’s why they are referred as essential fatty acids. Fish oil is preferred to plant-based omega-3’s (flaxseed, canola oil) because our bodies use them best. Women with PCOS benefit from fish oil as it has been found to be effective at improving ovulation, triglycerides, insulin resistance and inflammation. Click here to read more about fish oil’s important role in PCOS.

Fish Oil’s Role in Depression

The topic of omega-3 fatty acid’s role in depression and mood was presented at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo last month. Here is some of the information on fish oil and depression discussed:

  • Geographic areas that have a higher intake of omega-3 fats have lower rates of depression.
  • Depressed individuals have been found to have depleted levels of DHA and EPA.
  • Studies using fish oil show significant improvement in depression compared to placebo.

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Both the presenters and the American Psychological Association recommend those with mood disorders take 1-2 grams (1,000-2,000 milligrams) per day of EPA + DHA as an adjunct treatment, to be used along with therapy and antidepressants. Government guidelines recommend eating cold-water fish twice a week, yet that amount is insufficient to reach the therapeutic amount recommended for improving mood. That’s why fish oil is preferred. Despite the data, it still isn’t clear if omega-3s can be used as mood stabilizers or which type of omega-3 is most beneficial. Current studies are exploring this.

How to take Fish Oil

Say the word ‘fish oil’ to some people and be prepared for a nasty look. Some people fear fish oil will taste like fish or maybe they tried fish oil before and got a fishy taste. If so, they probably had a poor quality brand. It is best to take fish oil with food and to take high quality brand like Nordic Naturals (available in the PCOS Nutrition Center Store) to minimize any fishy taste. Brands with low quality fish oil can result in a fishy taste due to oxygenation. You can split up the dose during the day. In addition, enteric-coated fish oil or a liquid form can be better tolerated. Freezing fish oil can help with reflux or to avoid a fishy taste.

Overall, fish oil is well tolerated with no significant interactions. GI upset can occur with higher doses of more than 5 grams per day. It has been suggested that those taking anticoagulants or have a bleeding disorder avoid doses greater than 3 grams daily due to a possible increased risk of bleeding. It should be noted that data on over 19 studies involving cardiac patients who took 1-4 grams of EPA and DHA showed that the risk for bleeding was “virtually nonexistent”.

Bottom line
Fish oil offers numerous benefits to women with PCOS. Women with PCOS may find that taking sufficient amounts of EPA+DHA when combined with therapy and medications, may improve mood and  depression.

Have you noticed a difference in your mood from taking Fish Oil? Let us know by leaving a comment below. 


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Rosenblat JD1, Cha DS2, Mansur RB3, McIntyre RS.Inflamed moods: a review of the interactions between inflammation and mood disorders. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Aug 4;53:23-34.

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Comments (9)
  • Dina

    November 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Angela, this is really helpful! I’m going to give fish oil a try and see if there are any positive effects.

  • Carole

    January 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Hi. What about algae-based omegas? I take Ovega. I wonder…is the algae-based stuff an improvement over the land-based plant oils you reference in your article? And are the algae-based omegas as good as the fish oil omegas?

  • Emily Rine

    January 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    How many mg of DHA & EPA would you recommend in a supplement if I usually don’t eat any fish in my diet. I saw on the nordic naturals it was 650mg of EPA and 450mg of DHA, so is that would I should look for in a supplement? Also what are some other good brands I can look for?

  • Nikki Stein

    November 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    So thankful for this list! Thank you, thank you!

  • Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN

    January 31, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Algae omega-3’s are the best plant-based supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids but aren’t utilized as well as fish oil is. Fish oil is the preferred form.

  • Zuly

    August 30, 2016 at 6:35 am

    Great information. I am printing this page. Thank you

    Zuly Zonova

  • Charlette Paxson

    October 20, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I have just started taking fish oil today but I do love eating sushi. And when I eat really good sushi I do feel more energetic and happier. I am hoping the fish oil will help with my PCOS since sushi seems to be benefiting me. Also notice that when I ate sushi once a week, paired with fish and shrimp at home twice a week my periods were regulating. I stopped (budget cut) and I haven’t had a period in 6 months. 🙁 that’s why I have decided to take fish oil.

  • Whitney

    December 11, 2016 at 7:32 pm


    I was diagnosed with PCOS six months ago and began taking Metformin, a multi vitamin and fish oil shortly after. I’ve always been terrible at taking vitamins consistently but with the need for daily Metformin I decided I’d start taking them all together and have been consistent ever since. I’ve seen a significant improvement in my mood since starting to take all three. It’s hard to say which has had the most impact on my mood and ability to stabilize it but this research is very encouraging and insightful. I would say depression and anxiety have been the biggest, most significant issues I’ve dealt with with PCOS and since beginning both Metformin and fish oil I’ve seen noticeable differences! Oh and also, I’m a registered dietitian.

  • Angela Grassi

    December 13, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Great! Thanks for sharing Whitney!

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