Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Heartburn, indigestion, and diarrhea are some of the potential side effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil products may cause a fishy aftertaste or bad breath, while flaxseed or flaxseed oil may cause constipation or bloating. Some omega-3 fatty acid side effects are more serious and should be reported to a healthcare provider, including signs of bleeding, high blood sugar, or allergic reactions.
A normal dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids (through food) is probably free of significant side effects. However, even though they are "natural" products, omega-3 supplements may cause side effects. For most people, these side effects are merely bothersome. However, omega-3 fatty acids can sometimes cause serious side effects as well, especially when taken at higher dosages (which is often necessary in order to obtain some of the benefits of omega-3).
There are a number of side effects with omega-3 fatty acids that you should report to your healthcare provider and which may indicate that you should stop taking omega-3. These include, but are not limited to:
- Any signs of bleeding (which may theoretically occur with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids), such as:
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia), usually in people who already have diabetes
- Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
- An unexplained rash
- Unexplained swelling
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Some omega-3 fatty acids (the ones found in fish oil) can also increase LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol). Of course, dangerous side effects are possible if a fish oil omega-3 supplement contains heavy metals or other toxins, some of which may be carcinogenic (may increase the risk of cancer). This is why it is important to choose a fish oil supplement that has been adequately purified and tested for toxins.