What You Need to Know Before Taking Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A normal dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is safe and beneficial for most people, although high-dose supplementation may cause problems. Some people may be more likely to experience problems than others. Therefore, you should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking supplements if you have:
- A bleeding disorder
- Familial adenomatous polyposis, a genetic condition involving colon polyps
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods (especially fish), dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Pregnancy and Omega-3)
- Breastfeeding (see Omega-3 and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Safety of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for more information, including any available warnings and precautions.)
Many people wonder how omega-3 fatty acids are different from omega-6 fatty acids. Although omega-6 fatty acids are essential to human nutrition, the typical North American diet may actually contain too much omega-6 fatty acids and too little omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in a wide variety of commonly consumed foods, like grains and many cooking oils, while omega-3 fatty acids are found in less commonly consumed foods, such as oily fish, certain nuts, and flaxseed.
It seems that the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids versus omega-3 fatty acids is what is really important. Consuming too much omega-6 compared to omega-3 may increase the risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease, cancer, depression, and various inflammatory diseases.