Fish Oil Side Effects
Many consumers are concerned about the quality of the fish oil used in omega-3 supplements. There are also questions about fish oil side effects from mercury contamination in some fish oil products. In an attempt to answer these questions, Environmental Defense (formerly known as the Environmental Defense Fund) through its Oceans Alive program conducted a survey of 75 different companies that produce fish oil supplements.
Though common side effects fish oil are mild, the ones that are caused by fish oil mercury contamination can be very serious. This is why it’s absolutely crucial you only buy only fish oil that has undergone molecular distillation. Mercury exposure is particularly hazardous to children and women of child-bearing age, but health concerns do exist for men and women who do not plan on having children. Mercury is a poison and has been found in the fish we eat due to industrial pollution. Standards for allowable levels of fish oil mercury contamination vary among government organizations.
Oceans Alive found that the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an association of companies that supply nutritional supplements, has standards that are equal to or higher than the most stringent government standards.
The normal or common side effects fish oil consumption may cause are diarrhea and a fishy aftertaste. The side effects caused by mercury poisoning range from birth defects and learning disabilities to hair loss and fainting spells. Omega-3 supplements purified by molecular distillation do not pose a risk of fish oil mercury contamination and therefore no risk of the side effects associated with mercury poisoning.
The more common fish oil side effects (that is, even those that has undergone molecular distilltion) can usually be avoided by taking with food (even a cracker or small amount of juice will prevent the fishy after taste) or reducing the dosage.
However, some mild side effects may still happen, such as having the fish oil “repeat” on you. Another precaution is if you are using fish oil in conjunction with blood thinners. This is because fish oil itself is a blood thinner, and taking too many blood thinners may cause excessive bleeding. So if you are taking any type of anti-coagulants, let your doctor know before you add fish oils to your health regimen.
Most companies will voluntarily provide purification details to their customers who are concerned about fish oil mercury contamination and fish oil side effects.
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