7 Benefits of Omega-3 Fats for PCOS

Omega 3 fats are effective at improving many aspects of PCOS including triglycerides and mood, and help to support a healthy pregnancy. New research shows omega-3 fats can even boost fertility in those with PCOS. Here’s what to know about omega-3 fats.

Types of omega-3 fats

There are three different types of omega-3 fats: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are plant based omega-3s found in avocados; nuts like walnuts and almonds; seeds like hemp, chia, and flax, and oils like olive and avocado oil. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 fats found in egg yolks and fatty or “oily” cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, and halibut. Few other fish are rich in omega-3s.

Omega-3 fats are essential for people with PCOS, as they provide numerous health benefits. Omega-3 fats are linked to improving triglycerides and insulin levels, lowering inflammation and blood pressure, and even providing better hair and skin quality and improving your mood. DHA is particularly important during pregnancy, as it aids in the baby’s brain development.

Despite the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, most Americans don’t consume enough of them.

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Omega-3’s boost fertility

Exciting new research from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s Scientific Congress showed omega-3s are beneficial for improving fertility and chances of conceiving in PCOS women. Previous research that looked at 18,000 nurses from the Nurses Health Study showed that omega-3 intake was associated with better fertility.

Other benefits of omega-3 fats for PCOS:

Sources of omega-3 fats

Fish oil is the best way to get in omega-3 fats. This is because only a small percentage of omega-3 foods containing ALA, like nuts and seeds, are converted into DHA and EPA in the body.

Nutrition guidelines recommend we consume cold-water or fatty fish two times per week to reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, halibut, tuna, and trout are the best sources of omega-3s. Even if you eat these types of fish twice a week or more, you may consider taking a fish oil supplement.

A fish oil supplement is a concentrated mix of different omega-3 fatty acids, mostly EPA and DHA found in certain types of fish.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, look for an omega-3 supplement with ALA.

High quality fish oil with Vitamin D

Are there safety concerns?

Talk to your physician before taking fish oil supplements, especially if you take blood-thinning medications. Side effects are minimal but may include heartburn and burping. Freezing fish oil capsules can decrease these effects. You shouldn’t taste fish if you take a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplement.

How much should I take?

You can purchase fish oil in a gel capsule or a liquid form. People with PCOS should take one gram (1,000 mg) to 4 grams (4,000 mg) daily of a combination of EPA and DHA.

angela grassi PCOS dietiitian nutritionistAngela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN, is the founder of The PCOS Nutrition Center, for which she provides evidence-based nutrition information and coaching to women with PCOS. Angela is the author of several books on PCOS, including PCOS: The Dietitian’s Guide, The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health, and The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook. Angela is the past recipient of The Outstanding Nutrition Entrepreneur Award, The Award in Excellence in Practice in Women’s Health, and The Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Having PCOS herself, Angela has been dedicated to advocacy, education, and research of the syndrome. Click here to schedule a session with Angela to learn more about how nutrition coaching for PCOS can help you!

 

Resources

Salek M, Clark CCT, Taghizadeh M. N-3 fatty acids as preventive and therapeutic agents in attenuating PCOS complications. EXCLI J. 2019 Jul 25;18:558-575.

Mirmasoumi G, Fazilati M, Foroozanfard F. The Effects of Flaxseed Oil Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation on Metabolic Status of Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2018 Apr; 126(4):222-228.

Gaskins AJ, Chavarro JE. Diet and fertility: a review. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Apr;218(4):379-389.

Nadjarzadeh A, Dehghani Firouzabadi R. The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Iran J Reprod Med. 2013;11(8):665–672.

Oner G, Muderris II. Efficacy of omega-3 in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2013 Apr; 33(3):289-91.

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