Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Fish Oil Bad For You?

Also Known As: omega-3



Short answer

Fish oil supplements are generally not bad for you, but there is a lot of misinformation about its benefits. While getting Omega-3s from natural sources shows a positive correlation with disease prevention and management, no such correlation has been proven for fish oil supplements.



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Long answer

Fish oil supplements are among the most consumed products in the United States, to the tune of over one billion dollars annually. Since the beginning of 2014, as many as 10% of Americans were taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil is primarily procured from mackerel, salmon, herring, halibut, tuna, and other fatty fish. Additionally, whale blubber and seal blubber are also sometimes used to extract fish oil.

The prime ingredients in fish oil are Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered vital to brain function and normal growth and development. They are also widely believed by the general public to actively prevent illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, etc. While Omega-3 fatty acids may provide some protection against the aforementioned problems, there has yet to be conclusive evidence that fish oil supplements provide the same protection as getting Omega-3s from real fish or other food sources such as walnuts, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and soy oil.

Another thing to consider is that taking fish supplements can have unpleasant side effects, the most common being fishy breath and a fishy taste in the mouth. However, more serious side effects, such as nausea and upset stomach may occur. Consuming more than 3 g daily may also lead to internal bleeding.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • upset stomach
  • fishy breath

Possible long-term side effects

  • internal bleeding (if overconsumed)


  • may help prevent cancer
  • may help prevent stroke
  • may help prevent heart attack

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Nordic Naturals Omega-3

  • High-potency EPA & DHA
  • Supports brain health
  • Promotes heart health
  • Lemon-flavored
  • Non-GMO
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 12-29-2015
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 12-29-2015
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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