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-   -   Fish oil and hormonal balance for women (http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2440)

Margie Lempert 05-01-2008 07:06 PM

Fish oil and hormonal balance for women
Hey all,
Forgive this rather personal post, but I'm hoping the knowledgeable folks on these boards will have insight beyond my regular doc.

I have had a long standing battle with my estrogen: it doesn't like me and won't stick around in my body. Basically, I have hypothalamic amenorrhea.
I've gone through all sort of tests, tried hormone replacement and all that business, to no avail. I supposedly see one of the best endocrinologists around, but she still hasn't figured out what's going on - though she thinks it's exercise induced. I've cleaned up my eating pretty well (paleo, grassfed meats, some IF) and I believe I take in enough fat and protein, so I don't think it's about nutrition - though that may have been the catalyst. But it's been many years that I've been trying to correct the problem.

i know that fish oil can help to balance hormone levels, so I am wondering if anyone has thoughts on the following:
EPA to DHA ratio
CLO vs fish oil
fish oils that are 3, 6, 9 balanced (Nordic Naturals makes one).

I'm reading Protein Power Lifeplan now, which is giving me some new ideas about what might be going on.

Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts, I'm all ears. Thanks

Garrett Smith 05-02-2008 06:31 AM

I'm curious, what about your exercise plan has your MD thinking it is part of the problem?

How much fat and protein, and from what sources in general?

I prioritize CLO over fish oil.
2000iu/day of Vitamin D from CLO, rain or shine.
If you want to add fish oil on top of that, then get up to 2400mg of total EPA+DHA per day.
I personally take 300mg GLA per day from borage oil, that may help as well.
Make sure you are getting plenty of zinc and magnesium.

What do you do for a living or recreation where you might be exposed to toxic stuff? In the past or present?

Margie Lempert 05-02-2008 07:32 AM

I crossfit 5 days a week and usually 1 or 2 days have an extended work/skill building component. I'm certainly not exercising as much as an elite athlete, so I personally don't think that's the issue. But my doc's argument is that some people's bodies are more sensitive than others. She also feels I have PCOS "tendencies" - whatever that means. I've been amenorrheaic (sp?) for 5 or 6 years.

I am 5'1", weigh around 122-125 (smallest I've been and recently down to this from 136 about 6/7 months ago where i'd been stuck for a while, then started dialing in the paleo. Was about 155/160 5 years ago.), medium boned, fairly muscular, but definitely still have flesh on me.

My intake varies from day to day, of course, and month to month, but an overall average might be something like 55-70 grams of fat and 75-100 grams of protein. Fats include: avocado, olive oil, ground flax or oil, hemp seed butter, coconut oil on occasion, various nuts and seeds. I eat all varieties of fish/meat/poultry and am pretty OCD about them being properly raised, ie grassfed, wild or at least organic. Lots and lots and lots of veggies. (I turn orange easily, so I had to cut out orange foods.)

I added in 1.5 tspns Natural Calm maybe 4/wk about a month ago. No zinc.

In terms of environmental toxins - I work in an office in Soho in NYC, live in Brooklyn. That's been true for the last 9 years. I know when this started, and I can elaborate if you have the time/interest.

Someone advised me that it might be helpful to have a greater EPA to DHA ratio. Also, do you think it's better to take borage or primrose oil separately as opposed to in Nordic Natural 3,6,9 formula?

Thank you so very much for your help Dr. G. I appreciate your feedback!!

Garrett Smith 05-02-2008 03:37 PM

Iodine deficiency is one of the first places I'd look. From http://www.optimox.com/pics/Iodine/IOD-10/IOD_10.htm:


Iodine deficiency may cause the ovaries to develop cysts , nodules and scar tissue. At its worse this ovarian pathology is very similar to that of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). As of the writing of this article I have five PCOS patients. The patients have successfully been brought under control with the use of 50 mg of iodine per day. Control with these patients meaning cysts are gone, periods every 28 days and type 2 diabetes mellitus under control.
If you'd like to do an iodine test, simply PM me. I do the test that Optimox (the website above) recommends.

Note--putting oneself on 50mg of daily iodine without proper medical supervision is NOT a good idea.

Tom Rawls 05-03-2008 09:28 AM


Originally Posted by Margie Lempert (Post 30429)
I crossfit 5 days a week and usually 1 or 2 days have an extended work/skill building component. I'm certainly not exercising as much as an elite athlete, so I personally don't think that's the issue. But my doc's argument is that some people's bodies are more sensitive than others. She also feels I have PCOS "tendencies" - whatever that means. I've been amenorrheaic (sp?) for 5 or 6 years.

5 days of intense exercise a week is a lot, plus one or two more sessions suggests to me you could be overdoing it.

Your doctor apparently thinks so. If you truly are "overtrained," which will screw up a body physically, you need to cut back. You might consider following your doc's recommendation and see how it works.

Why are you so determined not to reduce your training?

Garrett Smith 05-03-2008 05:45 PM

An attempt to fix the above broken link.

Garrett Smith 05-03-2008 05:48 PM

I'm also dealing with several CF-type exercisers who are dealing with adrenal deficiency/hypofunction. If you take a week off, get proper sleep, reduce coffee/stimulant use, and do things to reduce your stress--and this combo makes you feel significantly better, that's a good sign of this.

Also, having a lot of trouble getting out of bed in the morning and/or having trouble falling asleep at night are indicators of a dysfunctional cortisol rhythm. It can be fixed, with proper work.

Margie Lempert 05-03-2008 05:48 PM

Tom - Hmmm. Interesting. I guess 5 times a week doesn't feel like an excessive amount considering the community I'm working out with, ie CrossFitters. (The one or two more sessions are just extended skill work, not necessarily a lot of intensity.) When I look around at my companions, I don't feel out of place with my volume of work. But maybe that's not the best way to assess things.

I workout because I love it, it makes me feel happy, I feel strongly connected to my community, and it gives me a different sense of self-worth than I've experienced before. It's like any other hobby.

Anyway, good to get another perspective - thanks.

Tom Rawls 05-03-2008 08:31 PM


I'm familiar w/ X-fit. Training five sessions a week is not uncommon frequency. The issue is intensity.

Do you follow the x-fit recommendation of regularly doing a week at reduced intensity? (What is the protocol--one easy week/month?) Do you take a month or two off a year and just do some moderate exercise? Every sensible athlete relaxes and recovers. X-fit often seems to expect people to go for a PR every day. You won't find an elite athlete anywhere on the planet who trains that way.

The elite athletes with whom I am familiar, those doing 2/day workouts, for example, do intense workouts maybe 2x or 3x a week. Their workouts may be long, but they are not pushing themselves to the brink daily. And they consume enormous amounts of food to fuel them, including adequate carbs to keep their glycogen stores up.

Good luck.

Margie Lempert 05-04-2008 04:44 PM

I just took a week off actually. I'm trying to do that every 2 or 3 months. And, sure, I come back feeling stronger and well rested.

I have very little caffeine in my diet. I just can't handle more than maybe 1 coffee a week and 1 or 2 black teas a week. I don't have much trouble falling asleep, and I wake up with the sun quite easily. Sometimes I have trouble staying asleep.

Tom - you're right that xfitters can be excessive in their intensity. I'd say my level of intensity varies a fair amount: 2 or 3 metcon type workouts/week (some very short and others long) balanced by 2 or 3 o-lifting/strength days. Some weeks are more intense than others. (We don't necessarily follow the main site at my affiliate.) I do tend to always push hard with the metcons, but I also honor those days when I'm beat and just have to work at less than full capacity.

The thing is: all this started long before I got into crossfit. I was exercising regularly, but not at all to the same capacity. I was, however, underfeeding myself for a while and am convinced that that was the trigger. What confuses me is why I'm still out of whack years later.

Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts and time on this, particularly since it's an idiosyncratic issue. Does make me want to learn a lot more about women athletes and nutrition....

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