Yes, this isn’t a recipe or a meal plan topic, but surprisingly I get asked this question more than I would expect and it has a nutrition component to it so I have decided to provide my expert opinion here.
Here is generally how the questions are asked.
I have been taking your krill oil (EFA Icon) and I noticed that it may be beneficial for relieving PMS symptoms. Should I be increasing the dosage during the PMS time for additional benefit or relief of symptoms? Thanks
Here is what I know on this subject.
Many women do experience some type of physical or emotional symptoms the week before they start their menstrual cycle. This may include mood swings, bloating, carb cravings, and irritability amongst other symptoms. The medical community coins this event as pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS.
Some women can experience symptoms so strong that it actually interferes with their everyday life. When this happens they are usually diagnosed with pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Researchers have studied this for years and are not exactly definitive on what causes PMS and PMDD symptoms. Many researchers indicate it is related to fluctuations in the sex hormones, estradiol and progesterone. Along with changed in the central nervous system neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin.
What they do know is that the brain must be involved since there are mood and behavioral symptoms. The neurotransmitters GABA and Serontonin are considered feel-good neurotransmitters that are influenced by the sex hormones. The sex hormones can actually interfere with the binding of those two feel-good neurotransmitters to receptors, which in turn causes mood swings.
One nutritional technique to help relieve PMS symptoms is to consume a high complex carbohydrate diet a few days before menses. Carbohydrates will increase serotonin and GABA production (your feel good neurotransmitters).
So how does omega 3 fatty acids from krill oil or fish oil play a role in the PMS relief?
An epidemiological study has shown that individuals that have low omega 3 fatty acid consumption from marine sources may actually experience more PMS moodiness and pain. Those who regularly ate fish or consumed krill oil and other omega 3 sources experienced less of these symptoms.
There has also been a study conducted specifically with krill oil on 70 women with PMS. The researchers compared a daily dosage of 2 grams of krill oil for one month followed by 2 grams daily for the eight days prior to menstruation and two days during menses for another 2 months, to 2 grams of fish oil.
The results indicated that the krill oil dosage significantly reduced both the stress, irritability, depression along with the physical symptoms of PMS after 45 and 90 days. The fish oil group only reduced some of the physical symptoms.
One reason why the researchers believe the krill oil subjects experienced greater emotional relief was because of the EPA, DHA content of the brain phospholipids. Krill oil is in a phospholipid structure and phospholipids are one of the few things that can cross the blood brain barrier. Fish oil can’t do that.
Therefore, the EPA, DHA in krill oil positively can influence the emotional balance according to clinical research. Women with PMS have been found to have lower levels of DHA in the membrane structures of their brain. So consuming krill oil that can cross that barrier and reach the membrane structure of the brain is very beneficial.
So to summarize and answer the question…
Increasing your krill oil dosage during PMS may reduce more of the emotional swings and disturbances, but as of right now there is no specific research that indicates an exact dosage to accomplish this. The research clearly points to the benefits of extra krill oil right before your period. What that magic dose is though is to still be figured out. Krill oil will also improve your mood more effectively than fish oil will based on the current research.