Fish Oil Side Effects: 4 Tips To Avoid Them
OK – you tried fish oil because it’s good for you.
Now you’re experiencing some minor fish oil side effects.
This is normal.
Especially if you just started taking fish oil for the first time.
The most common fish oil side effects are belching and fishy aftertaste.
List of common fish oil side effects:
- Fishy burps or belching
- Stomach upset
- Unpleasant taste in mouth
List of uncommon fish oil side effects:
- Skin rash
- Back pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Minor infection
Do not take fish oil supplements if you are allergic to fish or soy.
Why soy? Because some of the other ingredients in the pill may be made from soy.
If you notice difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of tongue, lips or throat, get emergency medical help at once. These are signs of allergy. You may be having an allergic reaction to fish oil or something else that you just ate.
How common are these fish oil side effects?
Most people will notice burping or belching when they first start taking fish oil. This can be minimized if you take your fish oil with food. It also helps if you take only one pill per day at first and increase the number of pill gradually.
- About 30% of people taking fish oil pills will experience one of the minor fish oil side effects.
- About 4% of people stop taking fish oil because of side effects.
- About 3% experience an unpleasant taste in their mouth.
- About 8% experience an upset stomach.
- About 2% experience back pain.
- About 3% experience minor flu like symptoms.
- About 5% experience minor infection.
In a clinical study, 41 people took 6 fish oil pills a day for almost 3 years. Of the 41, only 3 dropped out because of the side effects.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is safe to take 3 grams (usually 3 pills) per day.
If you take blood-thinners or anti-coagulants like Coumadin®, talk to your doctor as high doses of fish oil can act as a natural blood-thinner.
Overall, fish oil side effects are minor and harmless. Benefits of taking fish oil supplement far outweigh any of the side effects.
4 Tips to reduce fish oil side effects
- Take only pharmaceutical grade fish oil. One pharmaceutical grade fish oil pill has as much Omega-3 as three regular fish oil pills. With pharmaceutical grade fish oil, you get more benefits with fewer pills. And fewer pills mean fewer side effects.
Shopping tip: How do you know if your fish oil is pharmaceutical grade?
Look at the Omega-3 content. It should be above 75 or 80% Omega-3. Most fish oils sold in retail stores are not pharmaceutical grade. Retail fish oils are usually only 30% Omega-3. The other 70% is miscellaneous fat that is not listed on the product label. Some retail fish oil can be as high as 50% Omega-3 but the other 50% is just fat.
- Start small. If you are just starting to take fish oil, take one pill per day. After a few weeks, increase dosage to two per day to feel more benefits. If your body is not used to fish oil, taking too many pills at once can cause diarrhea.
- Take with meals. This always helps with reducing side effects like burping and belching. Some people also find that freezing the pills reduces burps.
- Buy Enteric-coated fish oil. Enteric coating prevents the pill from dissolving in the stomach. The pill stays intact well into the intestines. Once fish oil is in the intestine, you can’t belch it back up.
Bottom-line: you may experience some minor fish oil side effects but there are ways to reduce the effects. The overall benefits of fish oil are so great that it is worth understanding and coping with the occasional small discomforts.