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Omega-3 Side Effects

Serious Omega-3 Side Effects

Some side effects with omega-3 fatty acids, while occurring infrequently, are potentially serious and should be reported to your healthcare provider. These problems may indicate that you should stop taking the product. These include but are not limited to:
  • Any signs of bleeding (which may theoretically occur with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids), such as:
    • Easy bruising or bleeding
    • Black, tarry stools; bright red blood in the stool; or vomiting of blood (signs of gastrointestinal bleeding)
    • Signs of a hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain), such as vision or speech changes, weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, or a severe headache
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia), usually in people who already have diabetes
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • An unexplained rash
    • Hives
    • Itching
    • Unexplained swelling
    • Wheezing
    • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can also increase LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol"). Of course, dangerous side effects are possible if a fish oil supplement contains heavy metals or other toxins, some of which may be carcinogenic (increase the risk of cancer). This is why it is important to choose a supplement that has been adequately purified and tested for toxins.

Final Thoughts

If you think you are experiencing an omega-3 fatty acid side effect, please let your healthcare provider know. Also, let him or her know if you develop something that "just does not seem right." While it may not be related to the supplement, your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose and treat the problem.
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