Is Omega-3 Good for Menopause?
There is no single solution to manage all menopausal symptoms. But dietary and lifestyle changes can reduce the intensity of the transition.
One nutrient that has garnered attention for its potential benefits is omega-3 fatty acids. In this blog post, we will explore whether omega-3 is indeed good for menopause relief.
Menopause and Inflammation
Recent research indicates that the transition to menopause can cause inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is known to worsen common symptoms of menopause, such as weight gain and joint pain. Furthermore, inflammation can increase the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammation
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that make them useful in managing inflammatory conditions.
When the body is subjected to inflammation, molecules called pro-inflammatory cytokines are produced. These can worsen the inflammatory response.
Omega-3s work by reducing the production of these pro-inflammatory molecules, thus helping to decrease inflammation. They also inhibit the activation of enzymes involved in the production of other inflammatory compounds.
Omega-3 and Menopausal Symptoms
Research specifically targeting menopause and omega-3 fatty acids is limited. However, several studies have suggested potential benefits for women experiencing menopausal symptoms.
Joint pain and stiffness are familiar complaints during menopause.
Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that work to reduce joint discomfort. They may also support joint flexibility and mobility, contributing to better overall joint health.
Menopause Brain Fog
Menopause has been associated with cognitive changes, such as memory lapses and reduced mental performance.
The term cognitive performance refers to how well the brain works. It’s about how we think, remember things, solve problems, and make decisions.
When our cognitive performance is good, we can pay attention easily, remember things better, understand things quickly, and solve problems effectively.
Omega-3 fatty acids — particularly DHA — play a crucial role in brain health and have been linked to improved cognitive function. Including omega-3 in the diet may help support brain health during this transitional phase.
Omega-3 fatty acids also can have a positive impact on your mood.
They help keep the brain functioning well. Omega-3s are like special helpers that work with chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, which control mood.
These fatty acids can increase the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel good. By doing this, omega-3s may help stabilize your mood and make you feel more balanced.
It is unclear how omega-3s impact mood. However, it’s known that including them in your diet is beneficial for your mental health.
Inflammation, gaining weight, and obesity form a vicious cycle. This makes it challenging to lose weight when going through menopause.
Chronic inflammation can impact the hormone leptin. This hormone signals to the brain when you should eat or stop eating. Inflammation can also cause insulin resistance, which leads to weight gain and makes weight loss more difficult.
By reducing inflammation, omega-3 can stop this cycle.
Adding Omega-3 to the Diet
To ensure an adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids, consider the following dietary options.
Cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are excellent natural sources of EPA and DHA.
Flax Seeds and Chia Seeds
These seeds are rich in ALA, which can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body to some extent.
Walnuts are a plant-based source of omega-3, providing ALA as well as other beneficial nutrients.
If you find it difficult to get sufficient fatty acids through your diet, omega-3 supplements can help. Supplements are especially important when omega-3 fatty acids are used to treat disease.
It’s interesting to note that supplements from marine sources are more effective than plant-based ones.
The Bottom Line
There are more than enough studies to suggest that adding omega-3 to your diet may have positive effects on health. But further research is needed to establish conclusive evidence regarding the specific benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for menopause.
Eating certain omega-3 sources, like fatty fish, flax seeds, and chia seeds, can help improve joint health. They may also help manage menopausal symptoms, such as brain fog, mood swings, and weight gain. Supplements can be a great way to ensure you are getting adequate EPA and DHA.
Keep in mind that it’s always important to talk to your healthcare provider about taking supplements.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL. She is passionate about helping women over 40 live their best lives through healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Su-Nui is a doctor in clinical nutrition, able to translate complicated evidence-based science into practical advice. Su-Nui is the former spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.