Here’s some great news for women going through menopause! A recent study, published earlier this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, presents the first evidence that fish oil supplements are effective for treating common menopause-related mental health problems.
The researchers conducting the double-blind trial recruited 120 women ages 40 to 55 and divided them into two groups. Over 8 weeks, women in the first group took 1 gram of EPA and .15 grams of DHA a day (EPA and DHA are the two omega-3s in fish oil). In the second group, the women were given a placebo of 1g of sunflower oil, which contains no EPA or DHA.
Test results before and after the eight week period showed that omega-3 significantly improved the condition of women suffering psychological distress and mild depressive symptoms. Women with hot flashes also noted that their condition improved after consuming omega-3s.
These results are a pretty big deal, given that the omega-3-induced decrease in hot flashes is equivalent to results obtained with hormone therapy and antidepressants both of which work for some women but are somewhat controversial in terms of effectiveness and side effects (in contrast, fish oil side effects are next to nil).
Considering that omega-3s have very few side effects and are beneficial to cardiovascular health, there are certainly a myriad of benefits for women (see more here and here), especially those entering the “third age,” to reap by taking a high-quality fish oil supplement!
(**Important note — no positive effect was observed among a small group of women with more severe depressive symptoms. Any woman experiencing symptoms of depression should talk to her healthcare provider or a licensed mental health professional. Antidepressants are often essential, at least temporarily, for women with clinical depression or mood disorders.)