Can You Take Too Much Omega-3?
- It is the blood thinning action of omega-3 that helps lower the risk of blood clots, but thinning blood is not always a good thing. Taking omega-3 can promote excess bleeding from an injury or during surgery. In large amounts, the supplement can cause nosebleeds and excessive bleeding from a simple cut. Omega-3 should never be taken with other medications that have a blood-thinning effect such as Coumadin, aspirin or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories).
- Contaminants found in fish could end up in omega-3 fish oil capsules, though the chance of mercury is rare because it rarely is in the oil of the fish. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins are more likely to transfer to the supplement. These toxins can cause a variety of health problems and are especially dangerous to pregnant women and small children. Buy fish oil supplements from a major manufacturer and check the label for specific ingredients.
- Gastrointestinal disturbances are not uncommon when taking omega-3s. Acid reflux, bloating heartburn, burping, indigestion and diarrhea all are possible. A fishy aftertaste also usually occurs when taking omega-3 fish oil. Symptoms are more prevalent with higher doses, and severe diarrhea can be dehydrating. It is best to start with a low dose, take the pills with meals and see how much can be tolerated.
Less Common Side Effects
- There are many other possible side effects from taking too much omega-3, but they are much less common. Since the supplement can lower blood pressure, taking too much can bring the pressure too far down, especially in those taking medication for the condition. Upper respiratory tract swelling and infections have been reported with high doses of omega-3. A few rare occurrences of patients with major depression or bipolar disorder experiencing mania have been noted.
- Omega-3 is classified by the Food and Drug Administration as "generally regarded as safe." As with any supplement, dosing should be discussed with a doctor to make sure it doesn't interact with other medications or medical conditions.