If you have PCOS, Omega 3 fatty acids are an important element to add to your pcos diet.
But what are they? Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 are Essential Fatty Acids. They cannot be made within the body and have to be sourced in our diets.
They help to:
- Maintain and develop healthy cells walls
- Aid brain function
- Mediate inflammation
- Promote healthy hair and skin
Interestingly, there are certain vitamins that can only be absorbed in the presence of fats. Vitamin D is one of them, which women with PCOS are often deficient in.
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Omega 3 and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Recent research has found that increasing Omega 3 intake results in improved “free” testosterone levels Omega 3 improves free testosterone levels in women with PCOS in women with PCOS. It is this free testosterone that causes increased hair growth, acne and hair loss. Also, taking Omega 3 supplements may improve the quality of eggs produced from the ovaries, improving fertility. But, that’s not all! It also helps to improve insulin sensitivity. Sounds good, doesn’t it?!
Be careful of too much Omega 6
Omega 3 and Omega 6 work best when they are present in the body in the right ratios. It is thought that the best ratio for optimal function is 1:1. But, in our modernized, Western society, the ratio is closer to 16:1 and sometimes even 30:1 in favour of Omega 6. So, we need to increase intake of Omega 3’s and decrease Omega 6. Let’s have a look at how we can do that.
Sources of Omega 6
Omega 6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids and are found in nuts and seeds and vegetable oils. These refined vegetable oils are found in most snacks, crackers and cookies. Soybean oil is also virtually synonymous with the fast food industry. So you can see that Omega 6 is prevalent in processed, convenient fast foods.
Also, Omega 6 is responsible for inflammation, blood clotting and cell proliferation. These are all important functions, as long as they are kept in check and not left to spiral out of control. Don’t get me wrong, we need Omega 6 but in a much lower quantity. So, why not cut out the fast, processed foods and get your Omega 6 from natural whole sources like those nuts and seeds?
Sources of Omega 3
Excellent sources of Omega 3 include flaxseed, walnuts, sardines and salmon. Although you can take an Omega 3 supplement, it is more easily absorbed and used by the body when it comes straight from the food source. The image below comes from a great website called “The World’s Healthiest Foods” and gives you a good idea of sources of Omega 3’s. The other huge advantage of incorporating these foods into your PCOS diet is that they are low GI and will not impact your insulin and sugar levels in an unhelpful way.
I also do take an Omega 3 to make sure that I am doing all that I can to get those ratio’s right. Now, there are a couple of ways to take on Omega 3 supplement. You could take capsules (like Nordic Oils) or a omega 3 oil (like this one from Nordic Naturals).
So, bring on the nuts and fish to increase those Omega 3’s and decrease that testosterone! I’d love to hear if you’ve seen any improvement in your PCOS symptoms since increasing your Omega 3 intake – drop me a line below!
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I am so elated and relieved that this community exists… I could cry! Tarryn, thank you for encouraging a supportive and open community and presenting all this information. You are doing something really amazing for us!
Hello! I was diagnosed with pcos when I was only 18, I’m now 26 and am on dianette and spironolactone, I cut out dairy 3 years ago, I drink loads of water, and I’m strict with my diet. I’ve relentlessly researched all the right foods and vitamins too take, I also have an excellent skincare regime. All this effort and I still have acne,its on my chin, cheeks, forhead, its even in my eyebrows!! I’m at a loss, I’m so depressed and frustrated. Looking at my skin makes me feel physically sick. I really appreciate this website, but I do wonder whether all these diet changes actually work? Because nothing has worked for me:'(
as a fellow pcos, who was diagnosed at the age of 16..
I’ve stopped dianette after ten years doing nothing..
started metformin instead. (insulin regulator medicine, often prescribed for patients with diabetes)
that helped a lot, although I still only have my period once in every few months.
I cut out sugar and wheat altogether, that helped enormously.
I’m still battling facial hair, although I had a diet relapse when it came back,..
no sugar and no wheat, worth trying.
also read this book if you haven’t yet:
Paul Jaminet: Perfect Health Dieat.
changed my life….
don’t give up!
I have another question..
I am following all the requirements of the PCOS diet eg. heaps of veg, fish and nuts. I don’t eat chicken, red meat or dairy.
My symptoms are getting increasingly worse and it just occurred to me that maybe my increase in fruit intake is causing heightened levels because of the insulin!
Should i be cutting out fruit altogether????
I love fruit so much so would hate to have to give it up for carrot sticks 🙁
Fruit can indeed cause a spike to our insulin levels especially if we are eating a lot all in one go. You won’t need to give it up but try looking at lower gi fruits or have smaller quantities.
Hope this helps – all the best.
HELP! I am looking into buying Omego 3 and there are so many different ones with different variations of EPA and DHA. How much should I actually be taking and how many times a day? I see 1 time and 3 times a day. Thanks!
How much of the omega 3s should I be taking daily?
I have had pcos n I was told it had gone my husband n I have been trying for a baby with no luck I have regular monthly cycle so I didn’t think it was pcos again because the first time my period had stopped, I went for a full out blood work n my testosterone level is high so I was referred to the gynecologist- fertility unit, it there anyway I can help in reduce my testosterone level?
please can omega 3 increase testoaterone
I have PCOS And my problem is I have thick facial hair and get boils my doctors don’t seem to know what to
do…….any help???? But I am happy to say I had my daughter after 5 years of trying
Love ur site . Thanks for these tips
I am married,diagnosed with PCOS…..with irregular period and unwanted fascial hair.Can I regularize my period and reduce unwanted hair with Omega 3 and folic acid ?? We are trying for a baby too …
Can you please suggest…
Hii.. I am diagnosed with pcos and have unwanted hairgrowth in face,stomach,chest etc.I also have excessive scalp hair loss.i am scared of my testosterone levels and hormonal imbalance.. I have been taking hyponidd for 9 months and i have my periods on time..but my scalp is itching and hair is losing.. Can i take soy protien? Can u please suggest any natural methods to stop thinning and loss of scalp hair? Will omega 3 do? I havn’t got my hormones checked.. I,m getting married soon. Can u please reply as early as possible?
Hi Nizoral shampoo worked for me to strengthen my scalp and my hair.
I have a big question. I have had PCOS for about 20 years now, haven’t had a real period in a little over 3 years. Doctor said don’t waste my time trying to get pregnant although I still pray about it. I haven’t had my testosterone checked out but I’m sure it’s way to high. I have embarrassing facial hair on my chin and neck and I use an epilady every day hoping my husband won’t notice but I’m sure he has. I’m only 36 and I need help. Will omega 3 stop the hair growth??
This is great info! I’ve been searching why my testosterone is off the charts. My Drs. have tested about everything there is to test. It’s not PCOS, I don’t take testosterone, and I eat healthy. Could it be my meds — even my Krill Oil? Or the seeds I eat all the time? — too much Omega 6? I’m going to try concentrating eating on the foods listed in the charts and see if it lowers.
Hi, I have late onset (non classic) congenital adrenal hyperplasia that I have been taking prednisone for since 2009. I talked to my endo about this last week and the only reason I am taking it is to control my testosterone levels. He said that I could take estrogen (BCP) instead. I don’t want to take anything especially prednisone! I am going to try this and see if it will help. Thanks so much for sharing this info.
I was dx’ed with pcos for YEARS before a midwife found that I had an abnormally high 17 oh progesterone level which led to the CAH diagnosis.
Hiii thank you for the useful information about PCOS , I did blood tests last month and it showed elevating in testosterone level . I was disappointment, I am trying to get pregnant . I’m going to take more Omega 3 . thank u again
Can I Breastfeed and take inositol ?.
I have also been researching this as I am currently 36 weeks pregnant. There is no research on taking Inositol whilst breastfeeding. Some women do still take it and report no harmful effects for them or the baby. I am personally going to wait until I have stopped breastfeeding before I start taking it again.
I hope that helps!
make a pilates for just 20 min.s every other day.. yo ll see difference and decrease of the sympthms
Are you really sure about pilates? Can you explain more?
Dear Amazing Tarryn,
I found your blog and because you can guess that I am PCOS person as well. I am 28 and never married and not have any kids. I have my irregular period from last couple of years. Before that, I was always on time, anyway long story in short, last year my Dr. said to start taking birth control pills because that’s the only solution she knew it’s out there. I came home and could not set in my mind to take the pill. Because I have high testosterone so did few research on my one and start taking spearmint tea, since then I get period every month just like a drop and that’s it, which is not really period. I do not feel like woman anymore 🙁 and afraid to get involve with married because I feel like I am not going to be pregnant. Also, I have lost lots lots lots of hair on top and it’s kinda empty on top so not really looking attractive to any man who can thing to propose me to get marry. So, basically you think my situation. I start going to new doctor lately and he did my test again. Everything except testosterone is normal in my system. My testosterone is way tooooo high almost 230 where it should be 30 to 40 max, which lead him believe that I have PCOS. It’s very hard for me maintain the diet list you have when I am leaving with my parents and I need to go by home made meal. I will try to my best to follow the diet. I already start taking vitamin D (Because doctor said that is way too low in my system), will start Omega 3 too.
Do you have any better suggestion for me after reading all these to get my period back and to get hair on my head? 🙁 Doctor said I might lost all these hair because of my PCOS. Also, how much Folic Acid is good per day to control this?
Did u got any solution for your problems? Please answer here as i am suffering from same issue.
This site had some excellent information and discussed Flaxseed oil and Omega 3’s from fish oil. I hope you find it helpful, Tara.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Evidence suggests that the anti-inflammatory activity of omega-3 fatty acids ameliorates non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a common condition in women with PCOS. In an Australian study, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduced liver fat content and other cardiovascular risk factors in women with PCOS, including triglycerides, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In particular, said the researchers, omega-3 fatty acids were helpful in reducing hepatic fat in PCOS women with hepatic steatosis, which is defined as liver fat content greater than 5% (Cussons 2009).
The powerful lignans—plant compounds that have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties—in flaxseed may help reduce androgen levels in PCOS women. Flaxseed consumption have been shown to stimulate sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) synthesis (Shultz 1991). Changes in SHBG concentration result in relatively large changes in the amount of free and bound hormones.
In a 2007 study, daily flaxseed supplementation reduced androgen levels and hirsutism in PCOS patients, leading researchers to conclude, “The clinically-significant decrease in androgen levels with a concomitant reduction in hirsutism reported in this case study demonstrates a need for further research of flaxseed supplementation on hormonal levels and clinical symptoms of PCOS.” (Nowak 2007).
I recently visited a nutritionist who recommended that I take flax seed oil instead of fish oil for the omega supplement because of the mercury levels in most fish oil. She stated it would be better to take fish oil if I can find a pure source, I was wondering what brands you recommend?
I have been taking omega 3 supplements for about 3 months now.
The contents of a single tablet are:
EPA 90mg, DHA 60mg.
I take single tablet each day.
But after reading your article, I think I should be taking more.
What do you think ?
So happy to have stumbled on your blog/site. I was told over a year ago I had symptoms that resembled PCOS. The Dr strongly believed it but I went into denial. Today I had a follow up with a new Doctor and she confirmed the first Dr’s diagnoses. So now I have come to acceptance and looking into taking better care of my body. I bought fish oil and need to lower my testosterone along with lose some major weight. Any starter tips would be so appreciated. Thank You.
Chrissie AKA Momma W
I consume salmon once a week. I was wondering, Should I up my omega 3 intake in the week?
I would definitely still take a supplement of Omega 3!
I find your site truly useful!I have learnt a lot more from it than from the past 3 months of treatment. Where I live, pcos diet is not really stressed, I even went to a dietitian who only gave me general advice on nutrition. The doctors here are extremely goal oriented and stuff your body with hormones to produce eggs, without any additional support of diet or holistic treatment. In any case, I decided to boost the hormonal treatment with additional diet.
In case I take a dietary supplement of Omega 3 fish oil. What is the recommended dosage in milligrams? There is a regular Omega 3 (500mg) and a magnified Omega3 Max version available with 1250mg of Omega3. Is the 500mg daily enough?
Just a tip for ladies based outside of the US or UK: I’m from the Netherlands and purchased my Inositol and other supplements from iherb.com. It was cheaper than Amazon.co.uk (or Amazon.de), especially if you live in a country where Amazon is not based, because the shipping expenses at iherb are much lower (only $4). The package arrived about 10 days after I put in my order.
can i get pregnant alone omage 3 and vita D
I have a quick question im taking Flaxseed Oil 1400 mg? is that good enough or do recommend a different supplement?
Fish oil supplements are a better option for women with PCOS. It seems that our bodies do not process Omega 3 from flaxseed oil as efficiently as it does from fish oil.
Hope that helps,
your website is so useful and has really great advice 🙂 keep up the great work
Tnx sooo much
Plus is reali hard to find a good diet here in africa….Nigeria. so am thinking of bcoming a vegetarian. Will dat help
I’m not a doctor so you may want to double check with one but that combination of supplements should work and be okay. Unfortunately I can’t say how long it will take to fall pregnant. It really depends on your body and system. In terms of diet, just be careful that you don’t have too many carbohydrates in a vegetarian diet. You need to make sure that you’re eating lots of good quality plant-based proteins like nits, beans, lentils etc.
Hope that helps!
I v pcos and I am abt to start taking inositol. My question is this, can I take inositol, melatonin, folic acid , omega 3 fish oil, royal jelly and chromium together. I reali want my own baby and would luv dis to happen fast. Den watz d duration for dis supplements bf I can conceive. Plz reply ASAP.
Ah jus looked on the back of bottle an it says omega 3 1000mg
Plus EPA/DHA 260mg x
That sounds good!
So would one a day be enough I’m wantin to start this an the other stuff as feelin down about my weight ect thanks
Can you please let me the brand name of the Omega 3 pills you bought? I’m researching online but I can’t find one with EPA and DHA information.
I’m Jewish so I don’t eat Gelatin unless it is Kosher. Could I take Ovega – 3 Non fish Omega DHA and EPA 500mg instead? Would at satisfy the Omega 3, DHA and EPA requirements? Or do I have purchase Omega 3 with fish oil that contains gelatin?
I’ve just bought some omega 3 fish oil 1000mg it says take one a day is that enough or should I take more ?x
Check on the bottle for the EPA and DHA content. The research is based on 180mg EPA and 120mg DPA so use that as a guide.
Hope that helps!
It says a source of EPA and dha .an only says 1000mg on the bottle x
Thank you for another great article. The chart is really helpful and it helped me add a couple of new items to my grocery list last night.
What quantities of flax seeds and walnuts are recommended? I had about 1 tablespoon of flax seeds sprinkled on a quinoa & bell pepper salad I had for lunch. Also eating about a handful of walnuts right now 🙂
Your quantities sound great. You obviously should consider calories in both if you are trying to lose weight.
Was yur Flaxseeds grounded bc tha stomach process them better if grounded
I have PCOS and I have noticed that due to the over production of androgens that my pores are very big and plugged. If I start taking Omega-3 (along with my maintenance I have set up with my derm.) do you think it will improve the overall production of sebum ?
Sebum production is influenced by testosterone production so managing those testosterone levels should help. Also, you should make sure that you’re following a good diet as high insulin levels cause increased testosterone production in women with PCOS. Cutting out dairy should also help.
I am disgonsed with PCOS too, me and Hubby was trying for 2nd baby but my gynae ask me to go for IVF but i am hestitaing as i dun wish to spend that amount. I am planning to get my diet plan and execrise more often, can you share with me the food list that you ate?
Diet and exercise are huge to managing your PCOS.
Hope that helps!
love tuna (canned ok?) and salmon! cant stand walnuts (mouth and throat feel weird afterwards, maybe allergic?) found your website and excited to start this pcos diet. (just found out thats what my prob is at the obyn office earlier in the month and everything does makes sense and explains everything) glad i found this website. lots of good information. thank you soo much! good to know there are soo many other people all ages and im not the only one
I was reading through the comments and enjoying the wonderful discussions on here and saw your questions about canned tuna and whether or not it was safe to eat. I thought you might enjoy reading this study that discusses BPA and its effects of the egg maturation process.
BPA can be found in some cans, water bottles, and other products. I hope you find this as helpful as I did.
I’ve been TTC for 3 years & been on & off everything under the sun. I’ve got PCOS. I’m getting older & buckling down on TTC. So started taking 1000mg of Cinnamon a day, and have been taking one gel of fish, flaxseed, borage oil omega 3, 6, 9. Wondering if I should up the intake? Also starting Vitex, dong quai, saw palmetto… Any advice??
Hi, I was just wondering, I see soy beans and Tofu are listed as great sources of Omega-3s. But you also say its important to keep your hormones in balance. Tofu and soy are full of Estrogen. Have you seen any research on that? Thanks
I have the same question. I was told by my derm. to stay away from Soy products. I am Pescatarian and don’t really enjoy the taste of regular milk so I used Soy milk a lot for coffee and cereal; I use regular milk again or Almond milk now. Anyways, curious if you followed up with this question about Soy and Estrogen.
I read most of the articles you have written so I did read about cutting out dairy and gluten. Dairy I think I will try but I am not so sure I could do Gluten. First because my partner is a chef who has a passion for food and I am sure he will cry when I tell him I no longer eat cheese; I won’t go as far as cutting out gluten. Second, because foods that contain gluten are too dang good quite honestly. I have PCOS but weight is not the biggest issue for me. I am an active individual with a puny salary, so food needs to be cheap and filling. I am more concerned about my hair growth and my acne.
Anyways just curious on what you have discovered about the soy and estrogen connection.
Love and hope to all on this webpage. As much as our struggles suck big time, it is nice to know we are not alone! 🙂
Hello, I’m a new member and have been looking through all your blogs they’re wonderful. I was down in the dumps recently about PCOS but after coming across this site i feel alot better and stronger. Also I’ve started homeopathy medicine for my PCOS which i was in two minds about but my mum wants me to try it out however after reading about the supplements that i ought to be taking I’m confused whether i should take them with my medicine. I have also started the no dairy diet which is going well surprisingly. Thank you so much for your support and this site.
Thanks so much for your comments and kind words. I’m so glad that you are finding this site to be an encouragement. I think that it would be fine to take both supplements and homeopathic medication at the same time but my only concern is that you aren’t going to know what is actually working or being more helpful for you. Maybe try the homeopathy for 3 months and if it doesn’t help, you could try supplements. Also you could ask your homeopathy practitioner.
Hope that helps!
Ill be seeing a homeo Doc this week.
My gynac said 2 things
1. loose weight
2. have charak’s m2 tone and hyponnid
i told her i cant loose weight and she simply said “you have to”
no ‘hows’ were answered
I surely will consult a homeopath as it doesnot have side effects.
and my mom’s BP problem is also being sorted my a homeo.
I’ll also consult a hakim. as it is said the are good with natural suppliments
Wait for a week . I’ll get back to you.
I have just been diagnosed with PCOS, I had a feeling I’ve always had it but now have found out for sure. I came across your post looking through the site and have been debating starting homeopathy medicine as well. I was just wondering how it has been going for you and if you’ve noticed any changes. I’ve been worried to start it.
Tarryn, thank you so much for this site! I was starting to feel really depressed after finding out I have PCOS but your site has made me feel better in knowing that it is manageable and not a worst case scenario.
I was just wondering witch Inositol to buy as it comes up with quite a few on amazon
I was wondering if you could tell us a little more about the dietary changes you made after being diagnosed with PCOS. I have PCOS and high testosterone and am TTC with my first child. I am already on metformin and it’s lowered my insulin but not testosterone. Any suggestions?
Thanks for your question.
I mainly went on a low GI, whole foods diet and started exercising regularly. I am now TTC my second baby and I have also introduced Omega 3, Vitamin D and Magnesium supplements. Spearmint tea has also been shown to lower testosterone in women with PCOS. The supplements will also help with testosterone.
Hope that helps!
what dose of omega3 and vitamin D you are taking to lower your testosterone levels?
I can’t tell you how much this website has helped me, i’m 19 and my doctor basically told me that there was no hope, and that I was destined to become obese because of pcos, I was 170, after taking information with this blog and exercising, i’m down to 150 pounds and i’m so happy.
That’s amazing! Thank so much for the feedback and for sharing your success! I’m so glad that you’re taking charge of your PCOS!
Thankyou for your reply where would i get the Inositol from and i never know what to eat while on a diet and im not very good at following a recsipe
You can get Inositol from Amazon… The main thing with diet is to eat unprocessed foods, always have some protein with every meal or snack and eat low GI foods. Hope that helps!
Hi just wondering can you buy this at any drug store supermarket? Want to try this ive got pcos never had any help off my doctor for it seeing nurse nxt month hope for some help with my waight i know alls there goin to say is what diet is good for u but none of them work stresses me out and get me down
Thanks so much for your question. Omega 3 is definitely available at the drug store (it’s a vitamin). It may also be worth considering taking Inositol and Folic Acid as this can help to improve your glucose metabolism and help you lose some weight. Also, you need to follow a diet that is designed specifically for women with PCOS. You’re right that a lot of other weight loss plans don’t work for women with PCOS.
I am wondering how do you know which inositol powder is the best to buy?
Hi,I’ve just seen this article after coming back from he store with a bottle of omega 3 and 6,thinking I was doing good…the omega 3 ratio is much higher than the 6..should I continue with these or stop takig them,I have been having severe panic attacks related to my pcos and I am desperate to get healthy
Hi Lerrin, thanks for reaching out. This is no problem. You ideally need much more Omega 3 than Omega 6 so no issues with taking them. We generally get enough Omega 6 in our diets anyway, it’s the Omega 3 that is often lacking. Well done for taking steps closer to managing your PCOS!
I never knew this, I’m going to give this a go and see how it goes – Thanks!
No problem! Hope it helps!