Omega-3 fatty acids are probably the unsung hero no one really talks about! This is a powerful healthy fat that plays a pivotal role in supporting your heart, brain, joints and overall health. From boosting cognitive function to taming inflammation, omega-3s can be the ultimate game changer when it comes to health. They are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids essential for maintaining good health. They are generally found in meats and other non-vegetarian foods. While they are good for your health, there are some side effects of omega-3 fatty acids that you should know before consuming too much of this nutrient.
Health Shots got in touch with Dr Nidhi Sahai, Nutrition And Dietetics, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Vaishali, to understand the side effects of eating omega-3 fatty acids.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are a class of fatty acids that include omega-3 fatty acids, sometimes referred to as omega-3 oils, n-3 fatty acids, or ω−3 fatty acids. The physiology of humans depends heavily on these vital lipids. -linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the three primary kinds of omega-3 fatty acids that are important for human health. Walnuts and edible seeds are typical examples of plant oils containing ALA, which is predominantly derived from plants. EPA and DHA, on the other hand, are mostly present in fish and fish oils, which are derived from the tissues of oily fish. These marine sources are abundant in EPA and DHA and considerably increase our daily intake of these healthy omega-3 fatty acids, explains Dr Sahai.
Studies have found that our body cannot produce essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids on its own. You need to rely on external food sources to get enough of omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, sardines, soybean oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and almonds, in your diet. They are also made available through various fish oil capsules, etc.
Side effects of omega-3 fatty acids
Even though omega-3 fatty acids are extremely healthy for you, too much of this nutrient can lead to side effects. A study published in the Stat Pearls found omega-3 fatty acids are generally safe, but they can lead to benign side effects such as fishy taste, diarrhea, gas, nausea, arthralgia, dyspepsia and eructation.
Dr Sahai says the excess consumption of omega-3 supplements may lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, nausea, vitamin toxicity, change in taste, stomach discomfort, and difficulty having a bowel movement (stool).
Dr. Bimal Chhajer, Cardiologist with a specialty in nutrition and various weight loss management and also the Director and Founder at SAAOL, says too much omega-3s have a low anticoagulant effect. This means they can reduce blood coagulation that can help with bleeding and bruising. Even while this trait is good for the heart, consuming too much omega-3 might make you more prone to bleeding and bruising, especially if you also take blood thinners.
Extremely high doses of omega-3 fatty acids may, in rare circumstances, result in a rise in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, despite the fact that omega-3s are often linked to better lipid profiles. He notes that these adverse effects frequently appear when omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, and DHA combined) ranges from 0.5 to 1.6 gm per day. This may vary depending on your age and sex.
The key is to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in moderation and take advice from your doctor before including omega-3 supplements in your diet. It is advised to consume omega-3 fatty acids from dietary sources, including fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and plant-based foods.