Fish Oil Supplements

Health and nutrition experts often recommend fish oil supplements as a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids to boost your immunity and promote good heart and brain health, as well as general well-being.

However, while publicizing the fact that fish oil is heart healthy, they will rarely talk about the potential adverse effects on your body. Ranging from mild to severe side effects, consuming fish oil supplements may lead to digestive issues, allergic reactions and, in some cases, decreased immunity as well.

Fish oil supplements are readily endorsed as a nutritional necessity. They are often recommended as an efficient way to lower levels of triglycerides, especially when taken in combination with a balanced diet. However, the jury is still out on their benefits as opposed to their risks. Here are some real adverse effects of fish oil supplements that they don’t usually tell you about!

Skin Rashes

Skin Rashes

If you notice a skin rash after starting fish oil supplements, then you need to alert your doctor immediately. This allergic reaction may have been triggered by the supplements, causing skin rashes and inflammation.

Back Ache

Back Ache

Even though the real cause of back pain triggered by the consumption of fish oil supplements remains unknown, it is a common mild side effect. If you experience discomfort in your back while you are taking fish oil supplements, notify your doctor.

Fishy Aftertaste


The most common side effect of taking fish oil supplements is the aftertaste. However, if the bottle has a pungent odor when you open it, there is a good chance that the capsules may have rotted. Do not use fish oil supplements past their expiration date and always remember to store them in a cool, dry place.



Some people experience vomiting, diarrhea and nausea that may have been caused by these supplements. In most cases, this situation can be avoided by taking the fish oil capsules with your meal. However, sometimes people experience digestive discomfort, such as diarrhea and vomiting, because the supplement may have gone rancid. This is why it is critical to check the expiration date on the bottle before buying and consuming.

Feeling Gassy

Feeling Gassy

While you are on supplements, you may sometimes feel bloated or gassy. According to health researchers, it still remains undetermined why that happens, but you must notify your doctor immediately if you are belching frequently.

Flu-Like Symptoms

Flu Like Symptoms

People who have used fish oil supplements have reported flu-like symptoms, such as chills, fever and sore throat. This may happen for one of two reasons: either your body is unable to process the supplement or the capsule may have been contaminated.

Irregular Heartbeat

Irregular Heartbeat

It is uncommon, but not unheard of either, for people to experience an irregular heartbeat and mild chest pain when they are on fish oil supplements. If you experience either of these symptoms, don’t forget to discuss it with your doctor.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic Reaction

This most commonly occurs in people who are allergic to seafood. Do not consume fish oil supplements if you have known food allergies. It may trigger unpleasant reactions such as hives, respiratory discomfort, and inflammation of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. Always check the capsule’s ingredients to ensure that it does not contain anything that you may be allergic to.

Blood Thinning

Blood Thinning

People who consume fish oil supplements may suffer from bleeding disorders that can thin the blood, making it difficult for the blood to clot naturally. These supplements have recognized blood thinning properties, exposing you to the risk of bleeding disorders.

It may also make you more susceptible to bruises that take longer to heal. If you are already on blood thinning medication or distressed by bleeding disorders, it is recommended that you avoid fish oil supplements unless you have your doctor’s approval.

Anxiety Disorders and Insomnia

Anxiety Disorders

Although it rarely happens, some people have experienced lack of sleep and increased levels of anxiety after they started taking fish oil supplements. As soon as the supplements are stopped, these symptoms usually subside.

Increased Risk of Oxidative Stress

Oxidative Stress

According to various research studies, fish oil supplements increase the risk of oxidative damage that can lead to inflammation. With the increase in infections and oxidative stress, your body becomes vulnerable to several chronic diseases within a short span of time. This is why it is always recommended to start fish oil supplements, or any other supplement, only under the guidance of your physician.

Higher Resistance to Insulin

Resistance To Insulin

Fish oil is known to enhance the levels of bad cholesterol in people, especially the ones suffering from metabolic syndrome.

These are the people who are already dealing with high blood pressure, excess visceral fat in the abdominal area, high cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Some people also experience resistance to insulin when they are on the supplements. According to some researchers, people with high cholesterol are more vulnerable to adverse effects of fish oil, as it affects the LDL to HDL ratio.

Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

If you go by certain studies, omega-3 fatty acids are actually helpful in the prevention of prostate cancer. However, there are some other studies that indicate otherwise. Some researchers claim that men who have higher degrees of omega-3 in their bloodstream are at a greater risk of developing prostate cancer.

Susceptibility to Infections

Susceptibility To Infections

When taken in small amounts, omega-3 contains an anti-inflammatory compound that is helpful in disease prevention. However, researchers have now discovered that increased levels of omega-3 may actually have adverse effects on the immune system and the body in general. The body becomes more vulnerable to diseases and infections due to its irregular response when fighting viral or bacterial contamination.

Do We Need Fish Oil Supplements?

Fish Oil Supplements

These supplements come highly recommended by purveyors of a healthy diet and are considered to be one of the best ways to maintain heart health. The studies are backed by significant proof of fish oil’s capability to have a serious impact on people who have risk factors associated with heart disease.

However, after one learns about the potential side effects of consuming fish oil supplements, even the best of us would have second thoughts about it. Side effects aside, many researchers also claim that the health benefits of fish oil supplements are highly overrated.

If your doctor asks you to go on fish oil pills or capsules to manage triglyceride levels in your body, then by all means, go ahead and take the recommended dosage. However, the danger with this supplement lies in overdosing on omega-3 fatty acids, especially when your body does not need it.

You can naturally meet your body’s requirement of omega-3 fatty acids with foods such as eggs, milk, and dairy products that are infused with omega-3. But taking supplements unsupervised may actually create an overdose of omega-3, thereby exposing you to considerable adverse effects.

Fulfilling the Body’s Need for Omega-3

Omega 3

Before you jump straight to fish oil supplementation, your first step should be to alter your diet and enrich it with foods that contain natural omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, it is advisable to eat two servings of fish per week to meet your body’s omega-3 requirements.

However, if you are a vegetarian, a vegan or just don’t like the way fish tastes, then you can also consider incorporating flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soy, canola oil, and other such food products in your diet. These foods are not only enriched with omega-3 but also contain vitamins and minerals that help with absorption. They also deliver many other nutritional benefits that a single concentrated fish oil capsule will not provide.