When an omega 3 supplement is taken at the recommended dosage of 3 grams per day or less the fish oil side effects are minimal if occur at all. It is even safe (and recommended) for pregnant women and nursing mothers and has proven benefits to improve various ailments. However, this doesn’t mean some individuals with certain medical conditions should only take fish oil supplements only under a doctor’s supervision because it can interact with some medications. Below is a look at some of the possible fish oil side effects that are rare in some, but possible through exceedingly high dosages.
Fish Oil Side Effects – Gastrointestinal
Fish oil supplements can cause belching, diarrhea, heartburn and nausea with relatively few individuals. These fish oil side effects are not seen in individuals who get their fish oil from eating fish and it is not known why they occasionally occur with supplements. Most of these side effects can be avoided by taking the supplements with food or by freezing the supplements before ingesting them.
Fish oil has a blood thinning effect which can become a problem if more than the daily recommended dosage is taken. Individuals who suffer from clotting disorders or who are taking blood thinners for hypertension should consult their doctor before taking fish oil supplements. There is no evidence that the blood thinning properties of fish oil is a problem in normal dosages in healthy individuals, but nose bleeds occur as a rare side effect of fish oil supplements.
Individuals who have a sensitivity or allergy to fish should not take fish oil supplements since this can result in an allergic reaction. The severity of allergic reactions is impossible to predict and they can appear as a mild rash, hives, digestive distress or swelling of the face, tongue and throat. Allergic reactions require immediate medical attention since severe reactions can cause respiratory distress and even death.
Some individuals may suffer from bad breath or body odor when taking fish oil and other dietary supplements like garlic or certain vitamins. The reasons for this reaction are not known and the fish oil side effect disappears within a day or two of discontinuing the supplement. Those who feel the benefits of the supplements outweigh the inconvenience can try mouth rinses or deodorants to counteract this side effect.
Fish Oil Toxicity
Certain fish have been found to be contaminated by environmental and industrial toxins like mercury. Pregnant women are cautioned against eating fish like tuna, shark, farm raised salmon and king mackerel because of potential toxicity. Fish oils supplements made from oils in the skin of fish are less likely to contain these toxins, but those made from fish liver oils may contain the toxins if they are not distilled. Distilling removes any toxins contained in fish oil and reduces any serious fish oil side effects.
In recommended dosages of 3 grams or less per day, fish oil may help reduce both cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, but at levels higher than the recommended dosage there is evidence that it has the opposite effect and can actually raise the LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Patients with high cholesterol who are taking fish oil supplements should advise their doctors and have regular blood tests to check their cholesterol levels.
Regulation of Dietary Supplements
Most of the industrialized nations of Europe and Asia have adopted CODEX regulations for dietary supplements. In the United States nutritional and dietary supplements remain virtually unregulated and consumers must choose their supplements carefully. Although the FDA publishes recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, individuals must research beneficial dosages and determine which makers provide the best supplements. This will also help prevent any potential fish oil side effects.
Fish Oil Side Effects Don’t Effect Most
There are proven cardiovascular benefits in adding fish oil to the daily diet and numerous studies are investigating other conditions and diseases which may respond positively to fish oil. There are few fish oil side effects for healthy individuals who take the recommended dosage of 3 grams per day or less, but exceeding the recommended dosage can result in additional, more serious side effects. In nearly all cases though, the benefits of fish oil far outweigh any risks fish oil side effects associated with the supplement.