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Side Effects of Salmon Oil

By Kathryn Vera

Salmon oil -- or fish oil, as it is sometimes called -- is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. While fatty acids can lower blood pressure and improve heart health, their side effects are also serious. In fact, salmon oil may lead to increases in bleeding, gastrointestinal distress and fasting blood sugar levels. If you are on prescription medications, talk to your doctor before adding salmon oil to your diet.

Increases in Bleeding

Omega-3 fatty acids -- such as those found in salmon oil -- make blood less "sticky" and can reduce the likelihood of blood clot formation. While this is a perk for people who want to decrease their risk of heart disease, it also means that bleeding is more likely. People who bruise easily, have been diagnosed with a bleeding disorder in the past or take certain blood-thinning medications may be especially prone to bleeding as a result of salmon oil use. Eating more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids -- about the amount in three servings of fish each day -- can increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, or bleeding in the brain.

Gastrointestinal Distress

People who eat salmon regularly or take salmon oil supplements may experience gastrointestinal distress. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to increases in gas, bloating, diarrhea and belching. While there is no question that these symptoms can be embarrassing and a nuisance, they actually pose little threat to overall health. Those who take salmon oil supplements may be able to reduce symptoms by choosing a time-release form of the product. Freezing salmon oil supplements before use or taking them with meals can also help prevent these symptoms.

Spikes in Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetics who consume salmon oil supplements may notice an increase in their fasting blood sugar levels. Those who use insulin-lowering medications may require higher dosages if they are also taking salmon oil supplements or eating large amounts of salmon. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Type 2 diabetics should only take salmon oil supplements under the supervision of a trained health care provider.

Medication Interactions

Salmon oil may interact with certain prescription medications. For example, the product may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with medications that slow blood clotting, and it can lower blood pressure levels too much for those who are taking medications designed to lower blood pressure. In some cases, however, the interactions between salmon oil and prescription medications can be beneficial. In fact, salmon oil appears to reduce the side effects associated with certain anti-rejection medications -- which are taken after organ transplant surgery to lower the risk of organ rejection. Similarly, salmon oil may improve the effects of medications designed to treat psoriasis and high cholesterol.

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