Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fish Oil & Fertility

(Yes, this is a cod)

When I was little, I remember my mother used to make us kids take cod liver oil. I also remember the taste was totally disgusting. Either I'd have to take it all at once and want to throw up, or, the teaspoon of it would ruin a full glass of orange juice. It was the bane of my childhood. Now, I'm realizing how smart it was. In fact, until the 70s, that was standard practice for pediatricians to recommend it, but they don't do it anymore I guess because you can't patent it and slap some big pharma label on it.

Unfortunately, as industrial production makes our food less nutritious, we need Omega-3s now more than ever, as things that are grain fed, like SALMON, BEEF don't get the Omega-3s from algae and grass that pastured cows or wildcaught salmon do, and fish, which used to be such a good source, is almost too contaminated to eat now, anyway.

Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for fertility and health, and, some studies show, it can even work better than Prozac for depression. My late, great fertility guy, Dr. Beer, recognized that many inflammary conditions (including repeat miscarriages) could be helped with fish oils.

Here's an article from Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Malmo University Hospital, University of Lund, Sweden on why omega-3s are particularly important. It's little technical, but basically gives good reasons for why basically all women (and men) should take some form of fish oil:
* An increased prostacyclin/thromboxane ratio induced by omega-3 FA can facilitate pregnancy in women with infertility problems by increasing uterine blood flow.

* Lowers the risk of premature birth and can increase the length of pregnancy and birth weight by altering the balance of eicosanoids involved in labor and promote fetal growth by improving placental blood flow.

* There is also some evidence that supplementation with omega-3 FA might help to prevent preeclampsia, postpartum depression, menopausal problems, postmenopausal osteoporosis, and breast cancer.
(Entire article is here.)

The problem with the article is that they tell you to make sure to get uncontaminated fish oils but don't tell you how. Next column, I'll look into fish oil brands that are actually tested and/or distilled for things like heavy metals and PCBs.

N.B. The FertilityBitch makes no pretenses of being Dr. FertilityBitch or any other kind of health authority, but likes to provide evidence-based into as a public service.

That said, as with anything, overuse can be harmful. Fish oils also work by thinning your blood, so watch out before you have any surgeries and make sure you let your doctor know what you're taking. I've found that when my level is right, my hair looks nice and shiny and my contacts aren't as dry (yes, in your eyes it's the OIL that determines whether you feel dry or not, NOT the water part, as much); when I've gone a bit over, I notice I bruise too easily.


Christina( ^ _ ^ ) said...

its been a while.
My friends sandi-di and liderma had to take cod liver oil either by the tablet or by spoon. Not their fav thing to do.

GreenFertility said...

yes, the new pills are much better AND some of the flavored ones are actually ok--stay tuned for recommendations! it's also good for PCOS, btw...

The Worsted Witch said...

My mom used to make us take cod liver oil too! But orange flavored, though we weren't even a little bit fooled :)

I pour a tablespoon of flax seeds into my cereal every morning to get some of the Omega-3 fatty acids...but I need to get a mortar and pestle and grind them up because it's actually better with the seeds cracked open.

GreenFertility said...


Actually UNLESS the seeds are cracked open, you DON'T get the Omega-3s because the shell resists stomach acids...

Thanks for the tip on flax, the only veg source of Omega 3s and a nice source o' fiber.

Anonymous said...

Interesting website with a lot of resources and detailed explanations.

GreenFertility said...

Thank you for reading!