Omega 3 Side Effects and Interactions

Omega 3 fatty acids come with anti-inflammatory properties that may protect you from cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, high levels of omega 3 fatty acids have many side effects, whether they come from fish sources such as krill or fish oil, or plant-based sources, such as flaxseed. Eating omega 3 rich food usually doesn't pose any threat, but things may take a nosedive when you take high dose supplements. It is important to maintain a balance to avoid omega 3 side effects.

Facts About Omega 3

Many studies have confirmed that omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil play a big role in lowering your blood pressure as well as triglyceride levels. There's evidence that dietary omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the latest studies have found that omega 3 fatty acids may not have a huge impact on health conditionssuch as cancer, asthma, psoriasis, asthma, and there even may be some omega 3 side effects which could cause problems if you’re under certain health conditions.

Actually, there are different types of omega 3. Different plant sources contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that can then be converted into omega 3 by your body. Fish oils may be different in the sense that they usually contain eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid. It means the results may vary if the studies have been conducted on fish oils and you're using food sources to get the same benefits.

Omega 3 Side Effects

Heart disease remains the nation's top killer, and omega 3s may help lower the risk. They also have their benefits in conditions such as dementia, cancer and depression. Even though the benefits are impressive, it doesn't mean you won't see any side effects.

Omega 3s are available in higher amounts in walnuts, salmon and spinach, but you need to watch out for certain omega 3 side effects even if you're getting them from other sources.

1. Increase the Risk of Bleeding

If you take more than three grams a day, omega 3 may lead to bleeding. It means you need to be careful if you already have bleeding disorders or are taking drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. In this situation, it becomes important to work with your physician and make some dosage adjustments.

2. Affect Blood Sugar Levels

Altered blood sugar levels are one of many omega 3 side effects. You need to practice some care if you have diabetes or you're currently taking herbs, drugs or supplements that alter blood sugar levels. Let a qualified healthcare professional check your blood sugar levels while taking omega 3 to avoid any complications.

3. Cause Low Blood Pressure

Hypotension or low blood pressure may well be a side effect of taking omega 3 supplements. Talk to your doctor prior to taking omega 3 fatty acids if you're already on supplements or drugs that lower your blood pressure.

4. Lower Immune System Response

Higher doses of fish oil may have negative effects on your immune system response, and it can become a serious issue if your immune system is already compromised due to HIV/AIDS or other conditions.

5. Increase the Risk of Irregular Heartbeat

A defibrillator is a device surgically placed in a patient to avoid irregular heartbeat. If you're one of these patients, you may have to avoid fish oil supplements because they can increase the risk of irregular heartbeat.

6. Cause Fish or Seafood Allergy

If you're allergic to seafood, you're most likely to have the same allergic reactions when using fish oil supplements. It’s, therefore, a good idea to avoid these supplements or you will witness several omega 3 side effects in the process.

7. Cause Intestinal Discomfort

The American Heart Association published an article about omega 3s in 2003, in which they highlighted several omega 3 side effects such as nausea, intestinal discomfort and a bad aftertaste. The side effects are augmented when you take omega 3s in the form of fish oil. Some other common side effects of omega 3 supplements include burping, diarrhea, bloating, acid reflux and abdominal pain.

8. Other Omega 3 Side Effects

Taking fish oil supplements may also aggravate symptoms for people who have depression or are suffering from a bipolar disorder. Its regular use may also cause vitamin E deficiency. It is equally important to take precautions when you have one of the following diseases:

  • You need to use supplements cautiously if you have abnormal heart rhythms and inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Avoid or limit the use of omega 3 fatty acids if you have liver disease.
  • Don't use fish oil in large amounts or it will lead to vitamin A and D toxicity.
  • Avoid or use cautiously if one of your existing conditions makes you vulnerable to colon cancer.
  • Children and pregnant women should use fish meat cautiously because it may contain mercury that causes several complications.

Medicine Interactions Associated with Omega 3

Besides the omega 3 side effects mentioned above, there’re still some medicine interactions that are related with it. If you’re taking such kinds of medicines, you should be aware of these interactions, or consult your doctor before taking omega 3.  

1. Birth Control Pills

Contraceptive drugs may interact with fish oil and decrease its effectiveness by reducing triglycerides in the blood. Some common birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol, levonorgestrel and norethindrone.

2. High Blood Pressure Medications

Fish oil may help decrease your blood pressure, but it may interact with antihypertensive drugs and cause your blood pressure to go too low. Some of these medications include losartan, enalapril, captopril, hydrochlorothiazide, furosemide and many others

3. Orlistat

Orlistat (Alli, Xenical), mainly used for weight loss, can interact with fish oil and affect the absorption of fish oil from the gut. It is, therefore, a good idea to take fish oil at least a couple of hours prior to taking Orlistat.

4. Medications That Slow Blood Clotting

Anticoagulant drugs that are used for slow blood clotting interact with fish oil and increase the chances of bleeding and bruising. Some of the most common medications used for slow blood clotting include ibuprofen, aspirin, diclofenac, heparin, dalteparin and enoxaparin, to name a few.

Note: It is quite clear that omega 3 side effects can lead to complications, but it is true as well that they rarely turn into life-threatening situations. You don't usually notice any side effects until you go overboard with the idea of loading up your body with these fatty acids. Know exactly how much and what form of omega 3 will produce positive effects in your case. Seek immediate medical attention when you notice any omega 3 side effects.

Here's one interesting video that shows you everything about omega 3 side effects and its benefits:

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