Fish oil provides many well-documented emotional, behavioral and physical health benefits. Unless you eat fish a couple of times a week, you probably don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil restores the imbalance in omega-6 versus omega-3 fatty acids created by the typical Western diet 1. Still, some people experience side effects from fish oil, including dizziness. While some side effects improve as you restore the balance of omega fatty acids in your system, other side effects signal more serious reactions that warrant attention. Speak with your physician before taking fish oil or other supplements.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits
Fish oil provides numerous benefits. Some of these benefits may contribute to the side effects of dizziness that occur in some people. Fish oil reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It lowers triglycerides and counteracts the effects of free radicals and so reduces the buildup of plaque in your arteries, veins and capillaries. This decreases your risk of atherosclerosis and increases your blood flow, enhancing delivery of nutrients to cells throughout your body and the removal of toxins and byproducts of metabolism. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil reduce inflammation, help the lower chambers of the heart maintain a steady beat and prevent erratic rhythms in the heart 1. For those who have significantly reduced heart function, these generally positive effects might create adverse side effects by reducing the excitability and effectiveness of remaining heart tissue, reports Harvard Health Publications 2. If you have significant heart dysfunction, dizziness could signal that your heart is struggling to pump adequately.
- Fish oil provides numerous benefits.
- It lowers triglycerides and counteracts the effects of free radicals and so reduces the buildup of plaque in your arteries, veins and capillaries.
The active ingredients in fish oil, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, increase the amount of hormone-like compounds in your bloodstream called prostaglandins 1. EPA and DHA specifically increase the production of series 3 prostaglandins, substances that reduce inflammation, decrease the formation of dangerous clots in your bloodstream and enhance blood flow. In other words, EPA and DHA not only improve the cardiovascular passageways that carry your blood but also thin your blood, which can reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes and further enhances the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to cells and tissues throughout your body.
Possible Down Side
For people who already have thin blood or who take blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin or clopedigrel, the cardiovascular and blood-thinning benefits of fish oil can contribute to adverse symptoms that can include dizziness. Other side effects of enhanced blood flow and thin blood can include excessive bleeding, swelling and headaches. Because of fish oil’s cardiac and cardiovascular benefits, the American Heart Association recommended in 2002 that people with coronary heart disease take fish oil, says Harvard Health Publications 2. However, if you have severe angina or significantly compromised heart function, or have possibly deadly ventricular rhythms, speak with your doctor about the advisability of taking fish oil.
- For people who already have thin blood or who take blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin or clopedigrel, the cardiovascular and blood-thinning benefits of fish oil can contribute to adverse symptoms that can include dizziness.
Fish Oil Side Effects
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Additional fish oil side effects that could cause:
- or contribute to dizziness include vertigo
- peripheral vascular disorder
- myocardial ischemia
- increased heart rate
- reduced heart rate
- according to DoubleCheckMD.com
Fish oil might contribute to dizziness in people with type 2 diabetes because it can lower blood sugar, especially if you are taking medications such as insulin, flipizide, glyburide or metformin.
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- DoubleCheckMD: Fish Oil (Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids)
- Harvard Health Publications: Fish and Fish Oil: Good for Most Folks, But Not All
- MayoClinic.com: Omega-3-Acid Ethyl Esters (Oral Route)
- Medline Plus: Fish Oil
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Office of Dietary Supplements/National Institutes of Health. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Bethesda, Maryland; updated July 9. 2019.
- Dipiro JT, Talbert RL. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiological Approach, 9th ed 2014.
- Micromedex 2.0. Truven Health Analytics, Inc. Greenwood Village, CO.
- Most Used Natural Products. Use of Complementary Health Approaches in the U.S.: National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Updated September 24, 2017.
- Burhania M, Rasenick M. Fish oil and depression: The skinny on fat. Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2017; 16(Suppl 1): S115–S124. doi:10.3233/JIN-170072
- Lee YH, Bae SC, Song GG. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: A meta-analysis. Archives of Medical Research. 2012;43(5):356-62. doi:10.1016/j.arcmed.2012.06.011
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Omega-3 supplements: In-depth. NCCAM Publication No. D482. May 2018.
- National Institutes of Health. Omega-3 fatty acids. Office of Dietary Supplements. 2018.
- The Arthritis Foundation. Fish oil.
Jon Williams is a clinical psychologist and freelance writer. He has performed, presented and published research on a variety of psychological and physical health issues.