Fish oil is a food supplement. People take fish oil for high cholesterol, asthma, depression, and high blood pressure. We recommend that you or your child should take fish oil to help with cholesterol. Fish oil can lower triglycerides and raise HDL (the good or “happy” cholesterol). Fish oil reduces the stickiness of blood cells (platelets) and swelling in the blood vessels. Sometimes a low dose of fish oil is prescribed after a heart attack.
Fish oil should be taken with meals. To reduce burping, store in the refrigerator and swallow them cold. Fish oil can also be taken before bed so the burping isn’t noticed during sleep. The entire dose can be taken at one time.
Most of these side effects are mild and will decrease over time. These side effects are rare in patients who take low doses of fish oil.
• Gas (burping, flatulence)
• Abdominal discomfort
• Loose stools
• Weight gain
• Easy bruising or bleeding
Cod liver oil is not recommended as it is lower in omega-3 fatty acids. Large doses may provide too much vitamin A. Flaxseed oil and other sources of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) may not be used as only a small amount of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA.
Stop fish oil for one week before OR procedures. Discuss this with your surgeon. Some types of fish may be contaminated with mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl). When fish oil supplements are made, these are removed. Shark, king mackerel, and farm-raised salmon supplements may be contaminated.
For more information about the safety of fish oil: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus. Search for “fish oil”.
Possible Interactions with other medications
• Birth control pills
• Blood pressure medications
• Blood thinners
Special precautions with these conditions
• Liver disease
• Fish or seafood allergy
• Bipolar disorder
• High blood pressure
• Conditions with low immune systems
• Implanted defibrillator
• Bleeding disorders
• Familial adenomatous polyposis
Call our clinic with further questions; 608-263-6420. See our fish oil comparison handout for further information about dosing, brands, and prices.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/07/2012
Copyright © 08/07/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7395
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