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  Can Fish Oil Capsules Cause Heartburn?

Fish oil has always been considered effective in reducing the risk of heart diseases and mental illnesses among many other benefits. Alternative medicine and mainstream medicine both agree on the many benefits of fish oil. Ironically, one of the side effects of fish oil is heartburn. The intake of 3 grams per day of fish oil is considered safe for most people, taking more than 3 grams per day can trigger the side effects such as heartburn, nosebleed, rash, bad breath, laxative effect, and belching. Consuming too much fish oil keeps blood from clotting and can increase the chance for bleeding.   

fish oil causes heartburnFish oil, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, may be obtained by taking supplements or eating fish. Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel are among the best sources. These provide about 1 gram of Omega-3 fatty acids in about 3.5 ounces of fish. However, the consumption of fish, even if eaten everyday, may not be enough to reach the desired intake level of fish oil. Distilled and encapsulated forms of fish oil supplements may be best to avoid the common side effects. 


The regular consumption of the suggested intake of fish oil is widely known to help keep the heart healthy, lowering triglycerides and increasing good cholesterol. These factors reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Fish oil can also slow the hardening of the arteries and lower blood pressure, both these factors are good for the heart. 


Aside from the benefits for the heart, fish oil is also considered effective in keeping the brain healthy, it not only helps prevent Alzheimer’s but also helps prevent depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD (Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder) among children. Combined with the typical drugs, fish oil helps regulate the moods of those suffering from these mental illnesses. 


Perhaps one of the most important benefits of fish oil is helping to reduce inflammation which is associated with serious illnesses such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart diseases and Alzheimer’s.  


Other benefits of fish oil are insulin sensitivity which helps in certain types of diabetes, eliminates joint pain associated osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, lowering bad cholesterol and lowering the risk of AMD (age-related macular degeneration), keeping even eye sights healthy. 


There are even more added benefits of taking fish oil and these include anti-aging, keeping the skin healthy as it increases hydration, fewer wrinkles, oil production regulation and reducing acne. Weight loss is also a benefit with studies showing that fish oil can help burn fat and improve digestion. 


Not only is fish oil beneficial for the prevention of various illnesses and diseases, it is also beneficial for pregnant women. A newborn’s brain, retina and nervous system are mostly made up of the Omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing the amount of Omega-3 in an expectant mother’s diet aids in the development of the unborn child’s brain, retina, and nervous system development. 


To minimize and possibly completely eliminate the chances of experiencing heartburn and other unpleasant side effects when taking fish oil supplements, below are the most suggested: 


  • Refrigerate the fish oil capsules   
  • Taking fish oil supplements with meals or immediately before meals   
  • Take concentrated fish oil supplements   
  • Avoid deodorized fish oil supplements   


Deodorized fish oil capsules completely defeat the purpose of taking fish oil supplements as the process of ridding the oil of the ‘fishy’ smell destroys the EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (decosahexaenoic acid) which are the valuable Omega-3 fatty acids that provide the benefits of the fish oils in the first place. 


Concentrated versions of fish oil supplements contain the valuable fatty acids EPA/DHA two to three times more compared to the standard fish oil supplement. Switching from the standard fish oil supplement to the concentrated ones will also decrease the number of capsules you take per day. This step is also highly helpful to rid of the smelly burps commonly associated when taking fish oil supplements. 


The human body is not capable of producing Omega-3 fatty acids which is believed to be the catalyst for all the benefits brought by fish oil. Our bodies are dependent on outside sources for Omega-3 which we may get either through eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. The common side effects of fish oil, which are avoidable and minor, far outweigh the benefits.