This creates a lot of confusion among consumers, and they often take high doses of fish oil right away, which really increases the likelihood of experiencing side effects. But even if you’ve been taking fish oil supplements for years, you should keep an eye out for the known side effects, as some can manifest themselves suddenly and unpredictably at any point in time.
The following 5 health complaints are the most common side effects of dietary fish oil supplements:
1. Digestive Issues
Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation can be brought about by fish oil supplements. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, lowering the dosage of the supplement can help. If the symptoms persist, a doctor’s visit is much recommended.
Other, more dangerous side effects include bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract or worsening of ulcers, though they are more common among patients who take high doses of fish oil and those who take medications.
2. Bad Smell
If you ever tried biting through one of those fish oil capsules, you’ll know that fish oil doesn’t smell or taste good. Frankly, it literally stinks, and strangely enough, some patients complain that their sweat or breath starts smelling fishy, too, after they take the supplement. This side effect isn’t harmful and usually stops once the person discontinues the supplement, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant, doesn’t it? If that is a concern for you, try lowering the dosage of the fish oil supplement.
Fish oil is a natural blood thinner, which may be the reason why it’s beneficial for preventing cardiovascular issues. For the same reason, people who are already taking other anticoagulants to support their heart health, such as warfarin, for example, shouldn’t start taking fish oil supplement without a doctor’s supervision, as this may increase their likelihood of bleeding.
4. Allergic reaction
As with any substance, a person can develop an allergy to fish oil, too, and allergic symptoms that might not be so prominent at first, such as skin redness or watery eyes can worsen over time and build up to new symptoms. This is especially the case for people who already have a fish or shellfish allergy, which is why these individuals should consult their physician before they decide to start taking a fish oil supplement.
5. Prostate Cancer
The evidence regarding the link between prostate cancer and high fish consumption is unclear, as some observational studies found a link between high consumption of salted or smoked fish and prostate cancer, whereas others didn’t manage to produce the same results. There is no evidence linking fish oil and prostate cancer specifically, but individuals at a higher risk of developing the condition should consult their physician before taking the supplement, especially if they eat a lot of fish to begin with.
There is some evidence suggesting that fish oil supplementation can cause insomnia and restlessness, especially in individuals suffering from depression when taken in high doses. In most cases, however, it is safe for people with normal sleeping patterns and there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence to conclude that it’s dangerous for individuals with sleep disorders.
To summarize, fish oil supplements are safe for the majority of the population, but individuals with other health concerns should always consult their doctor before taking the supplement. It's also beneficial to start from smaller doses of the supplement and then build up to a higher dose, as this will minimize the likelihood of you experiencing a possible severe side effect.