Fight mood swings with fish oil


A recent report in the American Journal of Nutrition offers some hope for women – and those who have to live with them – who sufferfrom the hormonal havoc that can occur with PMS and in the time running up to the menopause. It’s not just the hormones of course, other stresses such as work and family life also add their load, plus the emotional challenge for many women of approaching the end of their childbearing years.

Other than hiding in a cupboard during the time when you want to lash out at everyone and everything and no sensible partner is insane enough to ask if you are alright without running the risk of a clip round the ear or a torrent of weeping. Now hope is at hand in the form of supplementing the diet with omega 3 oil.

Two groups of women took part in the eight week study; one being given 1.2 grams of omega-3 from fish oil and the others a placebo of sunflower oil. The group who had the placebo showed no improvement, but those taking omega-3 had definite improvements in their emotional state.

To supplement to the level of the trial you would need 1200mg a day of omega 3 and 1,050 mg of EPA. If you are not keen on taking supplements then you could increase the amount of oily fish in your diet such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and anchovies. Or turn to that childhood staple of cod liver oil if you can stand the taste. It contains large amounts of EPA and DHA.

A word of caution, most people can take fish oil supplements safely, but if you are any form of anti-coagulant, such as Warfarin please speak to your doctor. Fish oil supplements can thin the blood so you must check whether they are suitable for you before embarking on adding them to your diet.

PMS Relief


I know many women suffer greatly from a variety of physical, mental and emotional symptoms with PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome) and their partners usually also suffer the fallout with monthly regularity. There are some very simple, natural, tips that can help and before you next lock yourself in a dark room with a hot water bottle and some painkillers, it might be worth trying some of these ideas first:

** Get your mineral balance right in particular calcium and magnesium. Just 400 mg of calcium carbonate daily has been shown to help with mood swings, bloating, and headaches. Several large studies have shown that women with PMS have lower calcium levels than women with a good intake from food sources who had very few symptoms.

** Calcium is best taken with magnesium for the best effect and a supplement of 200mg a day can significantly improve PMS mood changes and reduce weight gain, swelling of the hands and legs, breast tenderness, and abdominal bloating.

CAUTION: Anyone with heart or kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements without consulting their doctor.

** Herbal relief comes from taking agnus castus, which was reported in the British Medical Journal to significantly reduce PMS symptoms such as irritability, depression, headaches, and breast tenderness. Other popular remedies include Black Cohosh which is available in supplement form and used extensively in Germany for the treatment of PMS. Ginkgo Biloba extract can be helpful as well when you take 80 mg twice a day from day 16 of one menstrual cycle to day 5 of the next cycle.

** Eating well can make all the difference, so eat little and often rather than a large blow out meal twice a day. This will help stabilize your blood sugar, particularly if you suffer from bloating and swelling of the hands and feet, breast tenderness, and dizziness. You want to reduce your sugar and salt intake and increase potassium-rich foods such as fish, beans, and broccoli. Give up caffeine, including tea, and switch to something milder and herbal like Green Tea. Avoid alcohol as it can affect hormone metabolism which means that high levels of alcohol can make symptoms like anxiety, depression, and breast tenderness worse.

** Vitamins that have been used include vitamin E (300iu) and vitamin B6 around 100-200 mg per day and both can help reduce your overall symptoms.

** Get moving, even – and especially – when you least feel like it. The benefits of gentle exercise will help with your mood swings or depression and it’s the frequency of your exercise regime that will make all the difference. Again, little and often is best. In China, a study was conducted on women who increased their consumption of tea and found that the more of the caffeinated drink they consumed, the higher prevalence of symptoms.