Are there any omega 3 side effects which we should be wary of?
Generally speaking, omega 3 fatty acids are critical for many aspects of health, and, as long as we do not take way too much omega 3 (too much of anything is a bad thing), they are safe nutrients to consume. There are a few things for us to take note of, though.
Firstly, persons who are taking blood-thinning drugs like aspirin and warfarin should be very careful about taking too much omega 3 fatty acids, as these essential fatty acids also have blood-thinning effects. In very large amounts, omega 3’s could thus increase the risk of abnormal bleeding and hemorrhagic strokes.
Other reported possible omega 3 side effects tend to be associated with fish oil, which is rich in the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
There are some reports that blood levels of sugar may increase in some persons who consume fish oil. Thus, those with diabetes may want to check with a qualified natural health practitioner before taking fish oil. Do note that fish oil has in fact often been reported to be helpful for this health condition.
Some research suggests that this possible omega 3 side effect – blood sugar elevations while using fish oil – could be prevented with the addition of vitamin E to the oil, or by undertaking moderate exercise thrice per week, 30 min each time.
Vitamin E is often added to fish oil supplements in order to prevent the oxidative damage which fish oil quite easily suffers. Fish oil which is damaged by oxygen may have undesirable effects on health, although this has not been conclusively shown.
It has also been suggested that some persons, while taking fish oil supplements, actually experience increases in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels; however, this possible omega 3 side effect is actually contrary to frequent evidence that fish oil in fact lowers this type of cholesterol.
A couple of ways to counteract this possible omega 3 side effect has been shown in studies. Research has suggested that consumption of 15g of pectin each day together with fish oil supplements can help to bring about decrease in LDL cholesterol; it has also suggested that garlic supplements can help to prevent the possible LDL cholesterol increase. Logically, fresh garlic should also help.
The following points are not fish oil or omega 3 side effects per se, but are possible problems which could be associated with consuming fish oil.
One important thing to note if you are hoping to get your fix of omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish – farm-raised fish tend to have relatively low levels of omega 3’s and relatively high levels of omega 6 fatty acids. Too much omega 6 and too little omega 3 promotes inflammation in the body, which can then lead to a host of serious diseases, including heart and cardiovascular conditions. The same is true for grain-fed animals. If you are looking to get omega 3’s from fish and animals, look for wild-caught fish and grass-fed (and chemical-free) animals.
Another huge problem with fish oil is that almost all fish today are contaminated with mercury, pesticides like PCBs, other heavy metals, as well as other toxins. It is thus of paramount importance that, when choosing fish oil supplements, you select one which is purified and certified free of these chemicals and toxins.
One thing to note about omega 3 side effects – it may be inadvisable to use cod liver oil to obtain your fix of omega 3 fatty acids. This is because cod liver oil has a lot of vitamin A. While this vitamin is critical for good health, taking too much in supplemental form can cause dangerous toxic overdose; too much of this vitamin also hampers the body’s ability to use vitamin D. Thus, do be careful here.
Fish oil capsules and pills may also come with minor fish oil side effects or adverse reactions, such as bloating, belching and bad breath. One possible way to reduce these effects is to start with a low dose and gradually work your way up; in fact, this is a good suggestion to follow when taking any herbs and supplements.