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Fish Oil Side Effects and Interactions

What are some fish oil side effects? Below is a detailed outline of the possible side effects from taking fish oil.

Dosage in the range of 1 to 4 grams daily does not present much problem in most people.

But with higher doses, more side effects can be expected.

See our detailed article on fish oil dosage for more information on how much fish oil to take or get the full review on fish oil

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Fish Oil Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

Side effects that have been reported include:

  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • dyspepsia
  • bloating
  • belching
  • flatulence
  • halitosis (bad breath)
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • rash

None of these fish oil side effects are harmful but they can be annoying. Taking an enteric coated or timed-release supplement helps to reduce these side effects.

High Doses of Fish Oil

Higher doses above 4 grams daily might have additional concerns. It is suspected to decrease the immune functions in our body. As well, since fish oil is a type of fat, it might increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol in some people.

It also can act like an Aspirin (ASA) and may thin the blood, leading to a possible increased risk of bleeding.

Safety and Concerns

Safety - Fish oil is safe to use by almost adults. In the United States, it has the status of Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). It is not harmful to use dosage up to 4 grams daily.

Also higher dosages have been used safely in research studies with only some increased reports of unwanted side effects.

Contamination of Fish Oil

There has been concern of contamination of dietary fish oil with toxins such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PBCs) and dioxin. This is true if you consume a large quantity.

All reputable manufacturers perform routine tests of their fish oil supplements to ensure they meet or exceed the safety requires of FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) in the United States and Health Canada.

If you are taking large doses of fish oil for treating your ailments, buy fish oil supplement from reputable manufacturers in pills or liquid format.

Pregnancy, Lactation and Use in Children

Pregnancy - Safe when taken during pregnancy in appropriate doses. Insufficient omega-3 in the diet (especially DHA) has been linked to shortened gestational periods and possible premature delivery.

Lactation - Safe when taken in appropriate doses. As omega-3 fatty acids cannot be manufactured by our body, the only source of omega-3's for the baby would be from the mother's breast milk.

Children and Infants - Safe when taken in appropriate doses. See above regarding potential contamination of dietary fish oil. Children taking fish oil supplement should be supervised by your healthcare provider.

Common Drug Interactions

Warfarin / Blood-thinners - Fish oil may increase the risk of bleeding. Monitor the levels when you are starting or stopping fish oil supplements.

Orlistat (Alli, Xenical) - Orlistat will reduce the absorption of fish oil. That's how orlistat works as a weight loss supplement. Avoid taking orlistat within 2 hours of taking fish oil.