Fish oil supplements taken for health benefits are generally safe and harmless. Indeed, it may well be more dangerous to eat fresh fish, considering the level of water pollution and what happens in fish farms on which they are grown!
Investigators of a study linking fish consumption to breast cancer warned “Fish is not merely a source of omega 3 fatty acids, but also of methyl mercury.” Sadly, many of today’s fish are contaminated with methyl mercury, a relic of industrial waste disposal practices in the past.
Mercury is harmful to many organ systems and tissues, as well as being likely to harm developing fetuses when ingested by pregnant women. Humans are exposed to methyl mercury primarily by eating fish.
How about fish oil supplements, are they safe?
Yes, they are. You can enjoy the benefits of fish oil, without the risks, by taking fish oil capsules. 3 grams a day of fish oil provides 1 gram of DHA and EPA, which is all you need.
Several brands use oil from fish caught in the cleanest and coldest waters, preferably those far from commercial shipping lines and industrialized countries where the highest risk of water contamination by wastes exists.
Making fish oil capsules even safer is the practice of molecular distillation, a process that removes any mercury or other heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs and other contaminants.
Are there any serious side effects of fish oil supplements?
Only a few, and even those matter only if you are currently on medication for other health conditions. For instance, if you are taking blood thinners for any other disease, the supplements might interfere and cause excessive bleeding.
The solution to this is simple. Make sure you discuss the supplements you are taking with your doctor and clarify if there are any concerns about interactions between them that could cause side effects.
There have been no reports of sudden death, life-threatening illness, handicaps or disabilities from taking fish oil supplements.
What side effects of fish oil will you have to deal with?
Minor problems have been reported in fewer than 7% of users, and side effects include diarrhea and a fishy after-taste. The latter may be avoided by washing down the capsules with a glass of fruit juice or eating a cracker with it. If that doesn’t work, you might try lowering the dose a bit, or even discontinuing the capsules for a while.
Another side effect of fish oil supplements is the troublesome effect of having it repeat on you, with fishy burps and bad breath. This is highly individual, and you may suffer a lot from it, or barely notice it happening ever.
One solution to this problem is to experiment with different brands. The best brands, made with pure oil, do not cause this because the fish are caught in clean waters, and the processing prevents it becoming rancid.
To see if your current brand passes this test, cut open one of the soft gelatin capsules and smell it. All you should have is a faint, pleasant oceany smell – not a foul fishy odor.
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