Know the Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are probably the unsung hero no one really talks about! It is a healthy and powerful fat that plays a vital role in supporting your heart, brain, joints, and overall health. From boosting cognitive functions to controlling inflammation, omega-3s can be a game-changer when it comes to health. It is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid essential for the maintenance of good health. They are usually found in meats and other non-vegetarian foods. Although they are good for your health, omega-3 fatty acids have some side effects that you should be aware of before consuming too much of this nutrient.

Health Shots contacted Dr. Nidhi Sahai, Nutrition and Dietetics, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Vaishali, to understand the side effects of consuming omega-3 fatty acids.

Know the side effects of omega-3 fatty acids!. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are a class of fatty acids that include omega-3 fatty acids, sometimes called omega-3 oils, n-3 fatty acids, or ω−3 fatty acids. Human physiology is highly dependent on these vital lipids. Linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids important to human health. Edible nuts and seeds are typical examples of vegetable oils containing ALA, which comes mainly from plants. EPA and DHA, on the other hand, are found primarily in fish and fish oils, which come from the tissues of fatty fish. These marine sources are abundant in EPA and DHA and significantly increase our daily intake of these healthy omega-3 fatty acids, says Dr. Sahai.

Studies have shown that our body cannot produce essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids on its own. You must rely on external food sources to get enough omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, sardines, soybean oil, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and almonds , in your diet. They are also made available via various fish oil capsules etc.

Side effects of omega-3 fatty acids

Although omega-3 fatty acids are extremely healthy, too much of this nutrient can lead to side effects. A study published in Stat Pearls found that omega-3 fatty acids are generally safe, but may cause mild side effects such as fishy taste, diarrhea, gas, nausea, arthralgia, dyspepsia and belching.
Dr. Sahai says that excessive consumption of omega-3 supplements can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, nausea, vitamin toxicity, change in taste, stomach discomfort, and difficulty passing bowel movements (bowel movements).

omega-3 fatty acids
Side effects of omega 3 include upset stomach. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Dr. Bimal Chhajer, a cardiologist specializing in nutrition and weight loss management and also the director and founder of SAAOL, claims that too much omega-3 has a weak blood-thinning effect. This means they can reduce blood clotting, which can contribute to bleeding and bruising. Even though this trait is good for the heart, consuming too many omega-3s can make you more prone to bleeding and bruising, especially if you also take blood thinners.

Extremely high doses of omega-3 fatty acids can, in rare circumstances, lead to increased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, despite the fact that omega-3s are often associated with better lipid profiles . He notes that these adverse effects frequently appear when omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA and DHA combined) vary between 0.5 and 1.6 g per day. This may vary depending on your age and gender.

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The key is to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in moderation and to consult your doctor before including omega-3 supplements in your diet. It is advisable to consume omega-3 fatty acids from food sources, including fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and plant-based foods.

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