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Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutritional components that play an important role in normal growth and development. They are primarily found in fish, but are now available as supplements for those who cannot obtain enough through food. Omega-3 fatty acids may lower triglycerides, prevent blood clots, and reduce blood pressure. Potential side effects include easy bruising or bleeding, nausea, and diarrhea.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential dietary macronutrients. This means they are important components of the human diet that must be obtained through food. Three omega-3 fatty acids are important for human nutrition, including:
Recently, there has been much interest in omega-3 fatty acids for a variety of different health benefits.
(Click Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for more information.)

Are There Side Effects With Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may cause some side effects. These side effects will vary, depending on the type of omega-3 (DHA, EPA, or ALA) and the source (fish, flaxseeds, nuts, or other sources). Possible side effects may include:
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • A fishy aftertaste or bad breath (with fish oil supplements)
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas and bloating (with flaxseed).
(Click Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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