Are there any risks in taking fish oil?

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Large amounts of fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with excessive or prolonged bleeding, which most frequently occurs in the nose or urine. Similarly, if you take large or frequent doses of fish oil, you increase your risk of having a hemorrhagic stroke. If fish oil is carelessly produced, it may contain chemicals such as dioxins, methylmercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These and other heavy metals are potentially harmful to children and pregnant or nursing women. However, methylmercury is mostly present in the meat of fish and fish oil is generally considered a safe alternative to eating fish as far as methylmercury levels are concerned.

Fish oil may cause adverse affects in people who are allergic or hypersensitive to fish or other nuts that may contain omega-3 fatty acids. Because fish oil often contains vitamins A and D, people who already take these vitamins are at risk for vitamin A or D toxicity. Also, fish oil has been known to increase levels of both high-density lipoprotein ("good cholesterol") and low-density lipoprotein (LDL/"bad cholesterol). Ask your doctor for more information if you have high cholesterol or if you are taking medication to lower your cholesterol.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.