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8 Side Effects Of Having Excess Fish Oil And The Safe Dose To Consume

Fish oil is one of the most beneficial healthy oils made from the tissues of fatty fishes such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring etc. It is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that has been linked to a plethora of health benefits [1]. Fish oil is commonly consumed in the form of dietary supplements.

If you don't consume a lot of oily fish, taking a fish oil supplement could provide you with enough omega 3 fatty acids. However, you need to ensure that you do not consume too much fish oil as it can lead to certain side effects.

Read on to know the side effects of consuming excess fish oil.

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1. Low blood pressure

A study showed that dialysis patients who took 2 g of fish oil supplements per day reduced their systolic and diastolic blood pressure [2]. Similarly, another study showed that taking fish oil supplements decreased blood pressure among people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol [3]. Though these effects can benefit people with high blood pressure, it can lead to serious problems for people with low blood pressure. Hence, people with low blood pressure should consult a doctor before having fish oil supplements.

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2. High blood sugar

Research studies show that taking high doses of omega 3 fatty acids supplements could increase blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. A study showed that type 2 diabetic patients who took 8 g of omega 3 fatty acids supplements per day led to a rise in blood sugar levels during a period of eight weeks [4]. So, people with type 2 diabetes should use omega 3 supplements with caution.

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3. Insomnia

Taking excess doses of fish oil supplements may affect sleep quality. A case study pointed out that a patient with a history of depression who consumed high doses of fish oil supplements increased the symptoms of insomnia and anxiety [5]. However, current research studies are limited and further research is needed in this aspect.

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4. Bleeding

Consumption of too much fish oil can lead to bleeding gums and nose bleeds. A study showed that adolescents who took 1 to 5 g of fish oil supplements per day experienced nose bleeds as a side effect [6]. If you are on blood thinning medications consult your doctor before taking fish oil supplements as they can increase the risk of bleeding. Also, you should stop taking fish oil at least a week prior to your scheduled surgery to prevent the risk of bleeding.

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5. Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is another common side effect of consuming too much fish oil supplements. A review study found that high doses of fish oil can lead to side effects like diarrhoea along with other gastrointestinal problems [7].

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6. Acid reflux

Fish oil supplements can cause heartburn, a common symptom of acid reflux. It can also cause other acid reflux symptoms such as nausea and belching due to the high fat content in fish oil.

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7. Vitamin A toxicity

As fish oil contains a good amount of vitamin A, there can be a possibility to develop vitamin A toxicity if excess of fish oil supplements are consumed. Vitamin A toxicity can cause dizziness, joint pain, skin irritation and nausea [8].

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8. Allergic reactions

The intake of fish oil supplements can cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to fish and seafood. A study showed that a patient who was allergic to fish had taken fish oil capsules and experienced allergic reactions such as itchy skin and reddening of the skin [9].

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How Much Fish Oil Should You Consume Per Day?

A fish oil supplement provides about 1,000 mg fish oil, which contains 180 mg EPA and 120 mg DHA, however the doses may differ [10]. Fish oil up to 3 g per day is generally recognised as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, the fish oil doses may vary among pregnant women and children [11].

It is recommended to consult a doctor before taking fish oil supplements on your own. Also, if you experience any side effects after consuming fish oil supplements, seek medical help immediately.

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To Conclude…

Fish oil is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids which offers an array of health benefits. However, the intake of excess fish oil supplements can cause various side effects such as bleeding, high blood sugar, diarrhoea and acid reflux. It is recommended to consume fish oil supplements under a doctor's supervision.

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