Side Effects of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Most people don't experience any harmful side effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, but there are a few who do.  In the majority of cases these are minor and will usually diminish once your body has adjusted to the oils. It's still important to recognize the “potential” signs and symptoms that can materialize with the consumption of fish oil (FO) supplements.

Oral Capsules, Liquid Filled – Potential side effects

We all want to experience the effects of fish oil capsules but obviously only those which are beneficial to health, not detrimental. If you do experience any of the side effects from the “major” list below, be sure to seek medical attention without delay.

Other side effects are more minor and less bothersome. Many of those from the “minor” list below will not require medical attention. Oftentimes, these symptoms are mild and short-lived. They may occur in some people as the body adjusts to the supplement.  Even with minor symptoms, consult a health care professional if they are troubling you.

Severity: Minor

  • Diarrhea or diarrhea like symptoms
  • Difficulty with bowel movement (constipation)
  • Trouble with moving (aching joints)
  • Flushes or fever
  • Bloated or prolonged full feeling
  • Mild headaches
  • Loss of taste
  • Aching muscle or muscle stiffness
  • Feelings of nausea or vomiting
  • Pressure in stomach
  • Sore or irritable throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Persistent fatigue

Severity: Major

  • Unusual tiredness or general weakness
  • Tightness of the chest area
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Puffiness or a swelling of the eyelids or around the face (including eyes, lips, tongue)
  • Hives, itching, or skin rash
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Cough

Point to note:  Make sure you take your fish oil supplements with food or after freezing them. Both of these methods have shown to reduce the potential of side effects in many cases.

Further Reading

You can read more on the safety of Omega-3 Supplements at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

By Andy

Hi, my name is Dr. Andy Williams and I am a biologist with a keen interest in diet and nutrition. This site was set up to help me explore the research, facts and fiction about Krill Oil. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions.

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