Omega 3: side effects and contraindications

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The hypothesis of fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6 it is essential to activate various metabolic and protective functions in the body.

It’s about polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) because they have more than one double bond on the carbon chain.

These are very important nutrients as they are considered essential and should be taken either with food or with supplements. fish oil based.

However there is also contraindications to omega 3 in case of overdose, especially if you suffer from certain pathologies.

Contraindications to omega 3

The body is able to synthesize most fatty acids polyunsaturated essential, except two:

  • L’alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega 3 whoseeicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and thedocosahexaenoic acid (ADH)
  • linoleic acid (LA) which is an omega 6 from which arachidonic acid (ARA) is synthesized.

The Western diet consumes far more Omega 6 than Omega 3. This imbalanced relationship in the food chain may necessitate the introduction of food supplements with fish oil capsules.

  • What are fatty acids used for?

Omega 3s play an important role in embryonic development and infant growth.

As they are active in the cell membranes, they play a preventive protective role against the tissues of the the nervous systemof cardiovascular system he was born in immune system.

In fish oil supplements, they are already present in the combined formula of EPA and DHA:

  • 250 mg per day is sufficient to provide effective protection of the heart muscle
  • during the pregnancy and breastfeeding An additional 100mg/day of DHA should be added.

Keep in mind that these nutrients are delicate, sensitive to light, heat, oxygen and free radicals.

Omega 3s perish easily due to environmental oxidation (they should be stored in amber, tightly closed containers and for this reason we prefer omega 3 supplements in capsules rather than in liquid form) and following peroxidation metabolic.

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It is good to buy supplements with additional substances antioxidants as the vitamin E. In case of deterioration, in addition to being ineffective, the omega-3 fatty acids they can turn into other molecules that are harmful to the body.

But let’s analyze these valuable substances in more detail to understand what their contraindications are.

Below we present to you contraindications to omega 3:

1. Sources of food


Our body cannot produce an essential fatty acid such as alpha acid linolenic, which should be taken with the diet. However, it can synthesize other biologically more active fatty acids from this omega 3 precursor.

We then review the foods with omega 3.

It is mainly found in plants and in the meat of animals that eat plants.

Oils derived from flaxseed, canola, walnut, soybean and wheat germ are the foods with the highest concentrations of ALA. Game animals, rabbits and snails that eat plants rich in omega 3 can contribute to the supply of ALA.

They are present in fatty fish like salmon, herring and mackerel.

Other interesting sources of EPA and DHA can be found in the fish oils already rich in Vitamin D.

2. Dosage

Given the recommended daily doses for adults, according to the reference intake levels of nutrients and energy for the Italian population, we can estimate in which foods and in which portion to take these foods.

The recommended doses are as follows:

  • 1.4 g/day in males and 1.3 g/day in females of ALA
  • 250 mg/day of EPA
  • 250 mg/day of DHA

NB: 250 mg/day of EPA + DHA combined is sufficient for cardiovascular prevention only.

3. Allergy to fish and shellfish

Fish and seafood are common food allergens. the effects of omega 3 to those who are allergic to these foods often leads to immediate reactions and is characterized by cutaneous, respiratory, digestive and sometimes cardiovascular symptoms.

Consumption of 3 grams or less of oil supplements of fish per day usually does not cause problems, but even low doses can have minor gastrointestinal side effects when taken alone between meals.

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These inconveniences are alleviated if fish oil is taken with meals, especially high in fat so that they are digested together.

4. Pregnancy

Omega 3s are essential during pregnancy, for the well-being of the future mother and the fetus.

Indeed, for pregnancy, in addition to the normal intakes of EPA and DHA according to the doses indicated, it is good to take a DHA supplement of around 100,200 mg/day.

DHA participates in the development of the fetal nervous system by acting on the formation of neurons and the transport of glucose in the brain.

During the last 3 months of pregnancy, the baby’s brain increases 3-5 times. DHA is the main “fuel” of the fetal brain. For this reason, foods rich in omega 3 are essential for the psychomotor development of children, their nervous system and their eyesight.

DHA should also be supplemented during lactation

5. Blood thinning

One of the major side effects of fish oil is blood thinning, which can be both positive and negative.

The EPA and DHA supplement is primarily used for its cardiovascular benefits. However, because fish oil reduces blood clotting time, it is important to discuss intake and supplement doses with your doctor.

In specific situations, the sticky surface of blood platelets can cause clots to form in the arteries of the body, causing blockage of blood flow and oxygen.

Fish oil reduces the amount of clots in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. But slower clotting also makes the blood thinner.

Extreme caution should be exercised when already taking diluents or medications antiplatelet drugs. It is best not to combine fish oil supplements with medications such as aspirin, warfarin, and heparin.

6. Effects on the immune system and depression

Numerous studies have shown that taking omega 3 has a positive effect on depression. One of the reasons is the fact that these fatty acids promote signal transmission in nerve cells.

In addition, it is believed to improve mood due to their positive effects on general blood circulation, hormonal stabilization and the immune system.

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7. Blood glycemic index (diabetes)


Several studies have been conducted to understand if there is a relationship between omega 3 intake and blood sugar levels. The results obtained are different according to the dosages.

Dosages of omega 3 higher than 3 grams/day, in addition to increasing blood glucose levels, also tend to increase the level of LDL, the bad cholesterol.

Diabetics have high levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL (the good cholesterol), and the risk of coronary heart disease in diabetics is considerably higher than in the general population (three to four times).

Omega 3s are not only important for lowering blood triglyceride levels and increasing HDL levels, but they also prevent cardiovascular diseases such as angina and heart attacks.

Doses of up to 3 grams/day of n-3 PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) are considered safe in diabetes, provided the patient does not have already elevated LDL cholesterol.

8. Research Considerations

Research results to date agree that omega 3 supplements do not reduce the risk of cardiovascular illnessesbut those who eat fish one to four times a week or who take fish oil supplements are less affected.


  • high doses of omega 3 can reduce the triglyceride levels In the blood
  • Omega 3 supplements can help relieve symptoms ofrheumatoid arthritis
  • these fatty acids play a positive role in the management of diseases of the elderly, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

As with most other conditions, the evidence is sometimes controversial or does not indicate that omega 3s are helpful.

However with a Symptoms of excess omega 3 serious malfunctions inmetabolic impact they can harm people’s health.


The benefits of omega 3 are numerous, starting with heart health. Regarding their safety, it can be said that they sometimes produce only mild side effects (unpleasant taste, bad breath, gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, nausea and diarrhea).

Additionally, if taken with meals and with some amount of other fats, these effects are minimized. If you are taking medications that affect blood clotting or are allergic to fish or shellfish, consult your doctor before taking omega 3 supplements.


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