10 Little-Known Side Effects of Too Much Fish Oil

Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
Side Effects of Too Much Fish Oil
Because you need to consume high levels of fish oil to reap the benefits, it is very easy to take a higher dose than what is considered healthy.

Fish oil is derived from a variety of fish. It contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

  • The body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids; they are obtained through food.
  • These essential lipids are required for survival.
  • According to studies, omega-3 fatty acids can enhance cardiovascular health. However, alpha-lipoic acid can benefit your health.

Consuming too much of a good thing can be harmful to your health, and it has been reported that consuming too much fish oil might have unfavorable side effects. Krill oil is a fantastic substitute because it provides the same benefits provided by omega-3 fatty acids in lesser amounts.

How much fish oil is safe?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest eight ounces of seafood (less for children) per week based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Roughly, 0.45 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily is well tolerated.

Because some environmental toxins, such as methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, can contaminate fish supplies, there is concern that consuming fish oil in extremely high amounts might lead to a buildup of these toxins in the body.

People who frequently consume fish should practice caution. When administered properly, adverse effects are often minimal and infrequent.

10 side effects of fish oil

You usually require high amounts of fish oil to reap the benefits, so it is easy to consume more than what is healthy. Knowing the drawbacks of fish oil will enable you to take it in small doses and stay healthy.

  1. Bleeding: Consumption of excess amounts of fish oil has been linked to nose and gum bleeding.
    • In healthy people, high doses have been reported to decrease the ability of blood coagulation, leading to recurrent bleeding.
    • Fish oil should be avoided by anyone using blood-thinning drugs. If you experience regular bleeding, you should stop taking it or severely reduce the dosage.
  2. Insomnia: Fish oil can aid with sleeplessness in small quantities, but too much has the opposite effect. High amounts of fish oil impair sleep, elevates anxiety, and result in insomnia.
  3. Increased blood glucose levels: High amounts of fish oil supplements can be harmful to those with diabetes because they raise blood glucose levels.
    • After a few weeks of taking fish oil supplements, people with diabetes have much higher glucose levels.
    • People with schizophrenia or diabetes cannot convert alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) into eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA), which are more easily absorbed by the body. People with these disorders need to have enough EPA and DHA in their diets.
    • If you have type II diabetes, use fish oil supplements only with a doctor's approval.
  4. Diarrhea: This is a relatively frequent side effect of fish oil, particularly at high doses. Additionally, it may result in additional digestive issues, such as persistent bloating and flatulence. Dosage is crucial because most omega-3 supplements can result in diarrhea. The smaller the better and take the supplement with food to prevent stomach upset.
  5. Stroke: Even though omega-3s can effectively lower cholesterol and improve heart health, studies report that consuming too much of them can raise the risk of stroke.
    • Too much fish oil raises your risk for hemorrhagic stroke by reducing your blood's capacity to clot.
    • Most studies conducted so far have only involved animals. However, research is underway to determine whether the risk of stroke exists in humans.
  6. Bad taste or odor: Fish and fish oil both have a unique smell. Some report that fish oil tastes awful or has a nasty aftertaste. Others claim it results in unpleasant breath or foul-smelling sweat. There is no proof that these side effects, which are the most frequent ones associated with fish oil, have long-term negative impacts.
  7. Vitamin A toxicity: When ingested in large quantities, vitamin A, which is present in some fish oil supplements, can be harmful.
    • Most fish oil servings provide 270 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A intake.
    • The symptoms of vitamin A poisoning include nausea, vertigo, joint discomfort, and skin rashes.
    • In severe cases and over a long period, this vitamin poisoning can damage the liver and potentially result in liver failure and brain edema.
  8. Acid reflux: Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are excellent for heart health, but they have been linked to heartburn.
    • Fish oil pills frequently cause adverse effects including nausea, frequent belching, and acid reflux.
    • These symptoms can be decreased by taking the supplement in smaller amounts and with food. However, if they persist, you may need to choose a different omega-3 supplement.
  9. Lowers blood pressure: While there could be further negative effects, fish oil's proven ability to decrease blood pressure is well established.
    • Supplementing with fish oil dramatically lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. One of the key arguments in favor of fish oil is that it lowers triglycerides and cholesterol.
  10. Increased risk for macular degeneration:
    • Even though research suggests that eating fish, which contains the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, may lower the risk of macular degeneration, a more recent study involving two sizable male and female study populations discovered that diets high in ALA may increase the risk of macular degeneration.
    • People with macular degeneration should obtain omega-3 fatty acids from EPA and DHA-containing sources rather than ALA-containing sources until more information is available.


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Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
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8 Little-Known Side Effects of Fish Oil & Why Krill Is Better for You. https://1md.org/article/side-effects-fish-oil