The side effects of fish oil supplements

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Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is found in high concentrations in certain fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which are known to offer a wide variety of health benefits...

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to be particularly useful in preventing atherosclerosis and heart disease. Studies have shown that consuming 2 to 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day can lower your triglyceride levels by 20% to 45%...

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The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming omega-3 fats from foods. This contains:

  • Fatty fish: The AHA suggests consuming two servings of oily fish (like salmon, anchovy, herring, and tuna) per week.
  • nuts: A small handful of walnuts, pecans, or almonds can have a positive effect on your lipid profile.
  • Seed: Chia and flax are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

However, if you don’t like oily fish, nuts, or seeds, you can try fish oil supplements instead. They are available in capsule form without a prescription.

possible side effects

Although fish oil seems like a simple way to improve your heart health, there are side effects associated with its use. These seem to be dose-dependent. The higher the dose you take, the more likely you are to experience side effects.

The most common side effects are:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • Belching of a fishy aftertaste

Ingesting high doses of omega-3 fats, including those found in fish oil supplements, can interact with certain medications. This is especially true if you are taking antiplatelet drugs such as Plavix (clopidogrel) or anticoagulants such as Coumadin (warfarin). Taking these drugs with high-dose omega-3 supplements can increase the risk of bleeding or easy bruising.

In addition, high doses of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can easily raise your blood sugar levels. In most cases, the effect will not affect the diabetes medication or increase the risk of diabetes. However, if you are having trouble controlling your blood sugar, fish oil may not be the best option for you.

You should avoid taking fish oil supplements at least a week before your scheduled surgery (including dental office) to avoid excessive bleeding...

To avoid interactions, always tell your doctor about any medications you are taking, whether prescription, over-the-counter, dietary, herbal, or recreational.

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Overdose

People with heart disease are often advised to take 1 gram (1,000 milligrams) of a combination of DHA and EPA from fish oil every day...

As beneficial as fish oil is, it is possible to overdose on omega-3 fatty acids, causing a number of adverse events, including:..

  • Bleeding gums
  • Nosebleeds
  • Hypoglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • diarrhea
  • Acid reflux
  • insomnia

Doses of omega-3 fatty acids over 3 grams (3,000 milligrams) can increase the risk of bleeding even if you are not taking blood-thinning medications...

There is also concern that the high intake of omega-3 fatty acids could slow blood clotting so much that it increases the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. People at risk of stroke should only use fish oil under the supervision of a cardiologist...

Since fish oil is high in vitamin A, ingesting too much can develop vitamin A toxicity. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, joint pain, and skin irritation...

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