Fish oil has a wealth of heath benefits, but does this include helping you poop? I’ve done some research and here’s what I found.
According to Healthline, fish oil that is high in Omega 3 can be beneficial for constipation relief, as the oil helps move things through the colon quicker. That being said, too much fish oil or fish oil that has been contaminated can result in nausea, gas, or diarrhea, so it is important that you are taking the right quantities.
Keep reading to find out how much fish oil you should be consuming for effective constipation relief, as well as some benefits and important side effects to be aware of.
Tips To Prevent Diarrhea From Fish Oil
Fish oil is basically a concentrated form of fat, meaning that consuming a high amount of it in a short period of time can certainly cause issues for your digestive tract. This can result in gas, bloating, and possibly diarrhea as your body attempts to deal with the overload of fat. Your system may get used to the fish oil after some time, meaning that diarrhea may cease.
Here are some tips to follow to minimize your chances of experiencing unwanted side effects from fish oil:
1. Watch your dosage
According to Livestrong, it may be a good idea to consider taking smaller doses, especially if you are new to fish oil. The maximum safe dosage of omega-3 fatty acids (from capsules) is 3 grams per day. If the dosage you are taking is similar to this amount, try taking half of that dose instead.
You can always take the remaining half later on in the day, if your digestive system tolerated the first half. Taking the supplement in smaller doses should make things easier for your bowels to handle, which will lessen those uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects you experience.
2. Take it with meals
Generally, you can take a fish oil supplement at any time during the day. However, it is recommended that you rather take it with a meal, as taking any supplement on an empty stomach can result in you feeling nauseous. Fat-soluble supplements, such as fish oil, are also known to be absorbed more effectively when taken with food.
3. Take an alternative variety
You may be able to decrease your chances of diarrhea by taking an alternative variety of fish oils. Instead of taking the oil by the spoonful or a basic capsule, look for a brand that has a time-release preparation.
These will not start breaking down until they reach your small intestine and are designed to break down slowly and gradually, thus minimizing any gastrointestinal discomfort.
4. Freeze the capsules
Another option, if you already have purchased fish oil capsules, is to put them in the freezer. Simply pop them in a sealable bag and place it in the freezer for a few hours. Freezing the fish oil capsules slows down the release in your stomach, which can prevent any unwanted side effects.
If, after you have taken all precautions and have still been experiencing digestive problems with fish oil, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor and get a professional opinion.
Who Should Not Take Fish Oil?
While fish oil is generally safe to be taken by most people (in the correct doses), there are certain groups of people who should take precautions before doing so. They include the following:
- People with liver disease or diabetes.
- Fish oil may interact with contraceptive pills and some medications for high blood pressure (Warafin). Be careful not to combine these medications with fish oil.
- People on Orlistat. This is a medication used for weight loss, and prevents dietary fats from being absorbed into the gut. While taking fish oil is not dangerous, taking these two medications at the same time may reduce their effectiveness of the fish oil completely.
Can you be allergic to fish oil?
If your diarrhea persists after you take fish oil, regardless of what you do, then you could be allergic to it. Some common symptoms of an allergy to fish oil include:
- Stomach pain
- Runny nose
- Stomach pain
- Sneezing and coughing
- Issues swallowing
Since allergic reactions can be life-threatening in some cases, it is important to get medical attention straight away if you experience any of these symptoms.
Additional Side Effects of Too Much Fish Oil
High blood sugar
Some research has shown that supplementing with large doses of fish oil could increase blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. One small study found that 8 grams of this substance increased blood sugar levels by 22% over a period of 8 weeks.
This is due to the fact that large doses of omega-3’s can stimulate the production of glucose, which can contribute to increased levels of long-term blood sugar levels. However, it is likely that these effects are due to doses that are higher than normally recommended.
Bleeding gums and nosebleeds are two very common side effects of too much fish oil! One study found that 640 mg of fish oil per day over a four week period decreased blood clotting in healthy adults.
Another study indicated that taking fish oil may be linked with a higher risk of nosebleeds, with 72% of young teenagers taking 1-5 grams of fish oil daily experiencing nosebleeds as a common side effect.
This is why it is often recommended that you cease taking fish oil if you are about to have surgery, and always talk to your doctor first before taking supplements if you are on blood thinners.
Although fish oil is known for its beneficial effects on heart health, some people report experiencing heartburn after starting with fish oil supplements.
Other symptoms of acid reflux can include belching, nausea and stomach discomfort are also common side effects of fish oil. This is primarily due to its high fat content, which does trigger indigestion.
The good news is that if you stick to the recommended dose of no more than 3 grams per day, you should not experience these effects. You can also split your doses (1.5 mg in the morning and the other half in the afternoon) to minimize reactions.
According to Healthline, some studies have found that taking moderate doses of fish oil can actually enhance the quality of sleep! However, other studies have shown that fish oil may actually interfere with sleep and contribute to insomnia.
In one case study, it was reported that taking a high dose of fish oil made anxiety and insomnia worse, particularly for those with a history of depression.
Benefits of Fish Oil For Digestion
By now you must be wondering exactly why taking a fish oil supplement is worth your time and money, especially when there are so many things that can go wrong. Well, the good news is that fish oil (when taken in the right dosage) has the following benefits for your digestive system:
Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase
Fish oil is known to increase the production of intestinal alkaline phosphatase. If you’ve never heard of this term, it basically plays a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis in the gut and reducing inflammation in the intestines.
Researchers have also discovered a link between reduced IAP concentrations and conditions such as IBS.
Fish oil also has antimicrobial properties that help to keep certain endotoxin-producing bacteria from causing damage in the gut. Endotoxins are known to cause inflammation, therefore preventing a buildup of these bacteria is a great way to reduce inflammation in the intestines.
Healthier Gut Flora
Fish oil also promotes the healthy growth of good bacteria in the gut. For example, clinical studies with people who have IBS discovered that omega-3 supplemented fish oils increased the population of certain healthy bacteria. It also decreased the levels of dangerous bacteria, resulting in a much healthier microbiome!