Essentially, omega 3s fatty acids (EPA/DHA/ALA) are mostly known for their effects on inflammation and bone density in postmenopausal women.
So,why, at a time when most women try to avoid fat, are Omega 3 fatty acids good for you? One thing for certain is, if you have tried to lose weight by consuming a low-fat or non-fat diet you are more than likely deficient in essential fatty acids.
Omega 3s fatty acids (sometimes referred to as essential fatty acids) contribute to the whole of your body helping to keep your body systems fully functioning. They are the healthiest fats you can consume. Due to EPA and DHA fatty acids not being made in the body we need to get them from our diet.The difference between regular fat and essential fat is that our body cannot make essential fat on its own.
Types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- EPA and DHA are primarily found in certain fish.
- Algae oil often provides only DHA.
- Most experts believe that DHA and EPA from fish and fish oil have better established health benefits than ALA.
- DHA and EPA are found together only in fatty fish and algae.
- Flaxseed and plant sources of Omega 3s provide ALA – a precursor to EPA and DHA – a source of energy.
What are the Differences between Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9?
- Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated acid and is the most important of the three due to their ability to suppress inflammation. These are the ones most lacking in our modern diet.
- Omega 6 is also a polyunsaturated acid. The difference between 6 and 3 is that it is not so difficult to find omega 6 in our modern diet as it can be found in many foods that the modern diet includes such as fast foods, snack foods, biscuits, cakes and sweets. This is why many of us have a disproportionate ratio of omega 6 to omega 3.
- Omega 9 are unsaturated acids. They are not in short supply in our diets and they are not considered to be essential as our bodies can make omega 9 from unsaturated fat.
Omega 3 Benefits
Simply adding high Omega 3 fish to one or two meals per week will provide you with a weekly dose of omega 3.
Some women are taking combination Omega 3, 6 and 9 supplements because they are being informed that there is a requirement for all of the omega fatty acids. Although this is correct you need to take into account what your own levels may be from the diet that you consume.
Sources of Omega 3 Foods
Oily Fish – salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, bluefish, sturgeon, anchovies, tuna
Flax and flaxseed
Sources of Omega 6 Foods
Evening Primrose Oil
If you are overweight, oils and nuts can be high in calories so eat them in moderation
As the modern diet contains few omega 3 sources, too much omega 6 and we can produce our own omega 9 – the supplementation you may require is omega 3 – if you are not getting enough from your diet.
Some experts disagree with this as they believe that the health benefits of omega 6 are being ignored and that the ratio between 3 and 6 are not significant.
At the moment I cannot find conclusive evidence to support one way or another. Whatever the outcome, increasing your omega 3 still seems to be a good idea.
Omega 3 Benefits for Menopause Symptoms and Associated Health Concerns
Hypertriglyceridemia (triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood – used for energy)Generally postmenopausal women have higher triglyceride concentrates than premenopausal women. High levels are associated with cardiovascular disease especially in women. The powerful effects of Omega 3 on triglycerides make them very important for women in the postmenopause stage of their life. It is also known that HRT can increase triglyceride levels.
Joint Pain – Menopause Arthritis
Omega 3 fatty acids are noted for reducing symptoms related to joint pain due to their anti-inflammatory benefits.
Omega 3 benefits include their effects on reducing inflammation in your body, therefore, they can help with menstrual pain and cramping.
It is a known fact that women are twice as likely to suffer depression than men with the risk being even greater during and after menopause. Omega 3 can help to keep your mood on an even keel.
Clinical studies have reported a decreased risk of osteoporosis with fish intake or fish oil supplementation. It is highly recommended that women also take Vitamin C & D supplements to aid bone health. You may find this guide to menopause supplementation useful.
Vasomotor Symptoms of Menopause
There is some evidence to suggest that Omega 3s are effective in treating vasometer symptoms of menopause: hot flushes and night sweats, however, further research is required.
Fatty acids help to lubricate the body in general so they can help with vaginal dryness.
Here you will find the results of a study conducted by Pharma Nord to determine the impact that Omega 7 has on vaginal atrophy and other symptoms such as vaginal dryness, itching, burning and painful sex.
CAUTION: Omega 3s EPA/DHA may cause the blood to thin and cause excessive bleeding, particularly in people taking anticoagulant drugs.
Common side effects of omega 3 supplementation – indigestion and gas.
Always check with your Healthcare Professional before taking any supplements, particularly, if you are taking prescribed medication. Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
Many studies into omega 3 benefits are in their preliminary stages and others remain inconclusive. Ongoing studies include the effect of omega 3 lowering the risk of breast cancer and the prevention of colorectal cancer. Past evidence pointed to omega 3 helping to reduce risk of heart attack, strokes, heart disease but recent research has disproved these findings.
Lim, J. 5 Reasons Why Women Need Omega 3. Retrieved from http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/healthyliving/DietandNutrition/Pages/5-Reasons-Why-Women-Need-Omega-3.aspx
Pick, M. OB/GYN NP. Balancing Your Omega-3 Fatty Acid. Essential for Health and Longlife. Retrieved from https://www.womentowomen.com/inflammation/balancing-your-omega-3-fatty-acids-essential-for-health-and-long-life/
Tarvido, A.P. (Dec 2014) Effects of Omega-3 on metabolic markers in post menopausal women with metabolic syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25394692