Whenever it comes to consuming fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids, a disturbing thing comes to everyone’s mind: Fish oil thins the blood.
But how true is this statement? Well, if you are looking for an answer to this, read along.
In this blog, we’ll discuss everything from what blood thinners do to whether or not fish oil thins or your blood. We’ll also try to help you understand whether or not fish oil consumption leads to bleeding. So, read in full.
What Do Blood Thinners Actually Do?
The goal of blood thinners is to help the blood move smoothly through the arteries and veins. Basically, there are two classes/types of blood thinners: anticoagulants and antiplatelets.
Anticoagulants are usually prescribed by the doctor when your body is making clots. Some examples of anticoagulants are warfarin, heparin, etc.
Antiplatelets are weaker than anticoagulants. They prevent the platelets from sticking or clumping together (which is the starting of a blood clot).
However, despite their name, blood thinners do not actually thin your blood or dissolve the existing clots. Blood thinners, technically, prevent blood clots from forming. The doctors use the term thinning to allow the patients to understand what’s happening.
What is the Relation Between Omega 3 and Bleeding and Does Fish Oil Leads to Bleeding?
Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and exhibits anticoagulant properties naturally. This means fish oil can prevent blood clotting. It’s because of this anticoagulant property fish oil is able to offer heart benefits such as prevention of clots and thus heart attacks.
So, bursting the fish oil myth bubble here- FISH OIL DOES NOT CAUSE BLOOD THINNING in literal terms.
Although omega-3s alone pose no risk of bleeding, consuming them along with some specific medication or anticoagulant can. It’s because omega-3 prevents clotting, and blood thinners also do the same (hinder clot formation), which means there’ll be more blood loss than normal.
However, according to a review of 52 studies, fish oil helped reduce blood clotting but didn’t increase the risk of bleeding in healthy people.
So, you can say that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil alone does not increase the risk of bleeding in humans.
Side Effects of Using Fish Oil
Anything in excess is bad for human health. And fish oil is no exception to this. Although rare, here are some side effects of excessively consuming fish oil:
1. Bad Smell or Taste
Fish has a unique unpleasant odor and so does the fish oil. And because of this, some people report that the fish oil tastes bad or leaves an unpleasant taste in their mouth. Some people even say that fish oil makes their sweat smell bad and leads to bad breath.
However, these side effects are harmless, and there isn’t any evidence proving that they cause long-lasting harm.
2. Allergic Reactions
Some people might develop an allergy to almost any food item, including fish oil supplements. If you are allergic to certain types of fish, you might even develop an allergy to fish oil, leading to itching or other symptoms. So, make sure to consult/contact your doctor before consuming fish oil.
3. Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Similar to other medications or supplements, consumption of fish oil might also lead to gastrointestinal issues such as:
In most cases lowering the dosage of fish liver oil helps reduce the symptoms. And in other cases, you might have to completely stop taking fish oil supplements.
4. Prostate Cancer
Certain studies suggest that there might be a link between prostate cancer and fish oil. While there are also studies saying there’s no link between those two.
However, according to a 2013 study, fish oil might slow down prostate cancer progression in patients. On the other hand, people who consumed large amounts of smoked fish were more likely to be at risk of prostate cancer.
Overall, you can say that researchers found no link between consuming fish and prostate cancer in individuals.
If in Trouble, Get Omega 3 Index Checked
The Omega-3 Index indicates two things. Most important, it is a risk factor for heart disease, just like cholesterol. But it is also a test you can take to evaluate your omega-3 level. It estimates the quantity of EPA and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid & eicosapentaenoic acid) in the blood, specifically the red blood cell membranes.
- High Risk = <4%
- Intermediate risk = 4–8%
- Low risk = >8%
Being in the highest risk zone translates to a 90% higher risk of sudden cardiac death.
What is the Safe Dosage for Fish Oil?
There isn’t any recommendation or guideline on how much omega-3 fatty acids one must consume. Also, the right dosage depends on several factors, including age and present state of health.
If you wish to increase Omega 3 in your diet naturally; get a personalized diet plan curated on The Wellness Corner.
According to some studies, smaller doses of less than 20g per day are found to be safe. On the other hand, doses exceeding the 20g mark might prove harmful.
Can someone allergic to seafood take fish oil supplements?
If you have an allergy to fish or seafood, you may want to sidestep consuming fish oil as well. Fish and seafood allergies can cause severe life-threatening reactions, as can fish oil.
Here are some important takeaways from this blog:
- Blood thinners don’t actually cause blood thinning. They instead help to prevent the formation of blood clots.
- Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids or fish liver oil doesn’t increase the risk of bleeding. However, it’s better to avoid consuming fish oil along with blood-thinning medications.
- Although overdose or side effects of fish oil consumption are rare, you still need to be cautious while consuming it.
- The best way is to start with a really small dosage of fish oil after discussing the same with your doctor. If you find no side effects, you can continue. Otherwise, you can stop taking the oil.