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The Side Effects of Fish Oil Supplements

By Edited May 7, 2016 0 1

There has been a lot of research into the health benefits of fish oil supplements. With this research we have learned that fish oil can benefit most people and help with a variety of ailments including, but not limited to, improved heart health, better brain function, easing of inflammation and pain, and much more. However, not all supplements are safe and knowing the possible side effects of consuming any supplement is important before you begin taking it.

Common and Not So Serious.
While many of us don't really like to have uncomfortable side effects from anything we are taking, it is good to know that they may happen, are considered normal, and aren't dangerous to our health. Fish oil supplements do have a few common side effects that can make life uncomfortable, but that aren't dangerous at all. The most common of all complaints is burping. These usually taste like fish and can be embarrassing. Other discomforts include bloating, indigestion, heart burn, acid relax, abdominal pain, and a fishy after taste. However there are several things that you can do to help eliminate these uncomfortable side effects.

  1. Always take with a meal. Taking your fish oil supplement with a meal helps with digestion. It is easier for the stomach to digest it when there is other food in there. It also helps eliminate fishy tastes and burps.
  2. Always buy fish oil gel caps or capsules instead of liquid supplement. Liquid fish oil hits the digestive system all at once and can make the side effects worse. Plus it is easier to take fish oil in a capsule then it is in the liquid form even though they come in all sorts of flavors.
  3. Buy a high quality supplement. Buying a better form or fish oil supplement can eliminate a lot of side effects. Look for ones that say they are burp free.
  4. Work your way up. Start at the lowest dose possible and work your way up. This gives your body a chance to get used to the supplement before you add more.
  5. Freeze. Many people suggest freezing your fish oil supplements. This makes it take longer to digest and it is known for eliminating a great deal of issues.

Avoiding the uncomfortable side effects that are common isn't always easy to do. Follow the steps for making it less likely to happen to you and them remember that the longer you take it the fewer problems you should have with it. It is like you have to tell your system that it is good for you before it will take it easily. Most people adjust within two to six weeks and find themselves experiencing the benefits without the side effects.

Serious Issues.
There aren't many serious issues associated with fish oil supplements. This makes them highly recommended and usually considered okay. The National Health Institute states that "low doses of fish oil supplements are generally considered safe". With this in mind there are a few issues to consider that could become dangerous.

Overdose. Most of us have a hard time imagining that we could overdose on something that is so good for us. However, overdosing on fish oil is possible. It can cause the blood to become thinned out, platelets to stop sticking together, and often presents itself in the form of nosebleeds and blood in the urine. You will also have a harder time getting bleeding to stop in the case of an accident. There is no daily recommended dose of fish oil and because of that it can be hard to know how much is too much, but taking more then the body can use can be dangerous and even life threatening. We really don't know how much is too much, however it is recommended that men take 1600 mg and women take 1100 mg. It is a good idea to make sure you are taking just a little less then these recommendations. It is also important that you don't follow the recommendations of the company who sold you the supplement. Many companies have their own recommendations which aren't based on research and shouldn't always be followed. Little is known about how much children should take and it is because of that, that fish oil isn't recommended for use by children unless their doctor is supervising them and recommending it. Taking more then the recommended amount should only be done when instructed by a doctor.

Vitamin E overdose. For the body to break down fish oil it requires vitamin E. This fat soluble vitamin is often used quickly when fish oil supplements are being consumed. Because of this many fish oil supplements contain their own supply of vitamin E to help the body out. This is fine as long as you aren't consuming more vitamin E in other sources. Some consume vitamin E on its own, in a multi-vitamin, or in another supplement. It is important to keep an eye on how much vitamin E you are getting. Read all the labels carefully, write down how much Vitamin E you are getting, and make sure that you are within the daily recommended limits.

Vitamin A and D overdose. Traditional fish oil supplements don't contain high doses of vitamin A or D, however many companies recommend that you take fish oil made from cod liver (or other fish livers). This oils are said to be superior in quality and in nutrition. It is true that fish liver oil does have more nutrients, including vitamin A and D. Because vitamin A and D are very prevalent in our every day lives it is easy to overdose on these fat soluble vitamins. It is a good idea to write down how much you are consuming including your multivitamin, your calcium, your milk, and your fish oil (if consuming a liver based fish oil). Make sure you aren't exceeding the recommended daily allowance. Another option is to simply avoid liver oils and go with traditional fish oil.

Overdosing on various vitamins or on fish oil itself can pose dangerous problems. However, these are easily avoided with careful planning and close watch.

It should be noted that while fish oil supplements have a lot of benefits and few side effects (especially lasting ones) not everyone should take fish oil supplements. Before going on any supplement you should check with your doctor and before deciding if fish oil supplements are for you, you should check out the article Who Shouldn't Take Fish Oil Supplements. Doing all of your research before deciding on supplements is always a good idea. Are fish oil supplements for you?


Apr 17, 2012 6:31pm
Really enjoyed your article--As a oil lover I have taken fish oil off and on for a great many years. I also will drink olive oil from time to time--know anything about that? Anyway, very nice article keep them coming.
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