For PMS, consuming a fish oil concentrate lowers inflammation and helps to improve hormone balance and neurotransmitter balance, by providing highly absorbable omega-3 fats. Clinically, our PMS patients are encouraged to maintain good levels of omega-3 fatty acids as this has proven to reduce both the psychological and somatic symptoms of PMS, and this is well-supported in scientific literature. These symptoms include depression, nervousness, anxiety, and lack of concentration, and the somatic symptoms of such as bloating, headache, and breast tenderness.
A recent 2017 placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of 95 women suffering from premenstrual symptoms that interfered in their daily activities found that fish oil consumption significantly reduced symptoms. The longer use of omega-3 supplement provided continual improvement of symptoms and reported quality of life.1
The key fact is that our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, so they are essential fats that we must consume to reap numerous wide-ranging health benefits for many body systems. The term ‘omega-3’ refers to the chemical structure of the long-chain fat and the location of its double bonds. The main food sources of omega-3 fats include oily fish in the animal kingdom such as salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines, and organic cold-pressed flaxseed oil in the vegetable kingdom.
Omega-3 fats are an integral part of every cell membrane throughout the body, and required for membrane cell receptors to function. All cells are wrapped in a membrane that acts as a selective barrier to regulate passage of nutrients and waste in and out of the cell. The membrane is made of fatty acid phospholipids and cholesterol and each new cell will try its best to form its membrane with generous and optimal amounts of omega-3 fats. If these are lacking, the membrane will include saturated or other fats. But these cell membranes lacking omega-3 lipids are impaired: they are less fluid, and less able to function as a vital barrier. They fail at keeping electrolytes, water and vital nutrients within the cell; and they cannot efficiently communicate with other cells or fully receive regulating hormones such as insulin. Homeostasis, that should maintain stable conditions within tissues, is then compromised.
Mood conditions can benefit from omega-3 fats: the brain is the richest repository of fats in the body. In depression, insufficient omega-3 fatty acid levels can impede brain cell fluidity, neurotransmitter synthesis and binding, cell signaling, uptake of serotonin, and the enzyme monoamine oxidase that breaks down dopamine and norepinephrine.
A landmark study on behavior and mood found that concentrated omega-3 phospholipids, from krill in this case, demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity and markedly outperformed conventional fish oil DHA/EPA triglycerides in double-blind trials for premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramps, and also for normalizing blood cholesterol and lipid profiles.2
In 2017, a review of multiple studies focused on the psychological stress of women who must juggle multiple roles in our complex society and the ramifications of specific dietary supplements to help manage anxiety. The review conclusively noted that essential fatty acids (EFAs) were effective in reducing anxiety during premenstrual syndrome, and also during menopause in the absence of major depression.3
We prefer to use a pure fish oil concentrate in our clinic that gives much higher absorption of omega-3 oils than standard fish oil pills. More of the essential omega-3’s are absorbed than from regular whole fish oil, and the concentrate has no fishy after-taste. Because of its ultra-high absorption, far fewer capsules are needed to obtain good levels of omega-3 fats in your body. Two or three fish oil concentrate capsules daily work as well as two tablespoons of whole fish oil, which would translate to about eight to ten regular fish oil capsules.
1,000-2,000mg omega-3 concentrate daily, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Behboudi-Gandevani S et al. The effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on premenstrual syndrome and health-related quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. Journal Psychosomatic Obstet Gyn. 2017 Jul 14:1-7.
- Kidd PM et al. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Alternative Medicine Review. 2007.
- McCabe D et al. The impact of essential fatty acid, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc supplementation on stress levels in women: a systematic review. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2017 Feb;15(2):402-453.
- Ryu A, Kim TH. Premenstrual syndrome: A mini review. Maturitas. 2015 Dec;82(4):436-40. Epub 2015 Aug 28.
- Sohrabi N et al. Complementary Therapeutic Medicine. 2013 Jun;21(3):141-6. Epub 2013 Jan 16