Fish oil may increase bruising

By Shayna Brouker • Published: September 9th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Fish oil has been touted as a wonder supplement for a myriad of maladies, treating everything from hypertension to ADHD. But like many remedies, the benefit of better health is often tempered by a slew of unwanted side effects. In addition to fishy breath, loose stools and nausea, those who take fish oil supplements may experience an especially “fishy” consequence… increased bruising.

The omega three-fatty acids in fish oil, called DHA and EPA, are known to pack a powerful punch against coronary artery disease. These nutrients inhibit blood clotting and reduce artery-clogging triglycerides, blood pressure and risk of heart attack and stroke.

Taking fish oil can even decrease the chance of another heart attack or stroke, as well as the risk of death from an attack. But its ability to slow clotting means that it might also cause excessive and prolonged bruising — and bleeding — especially when taken with other blood thinners, like aspirin. This danger may concern pregnant women, patients with blood conditions and those undergoing invasive surgery.

However, a 2007 clinical study found that any chance of hemorrhaging is very small, even when fish oil is taken with other anticoagulants like aspirin. The study concluded that the benefits far outweigh potential risks.

Nonetheless, if you notice painful bruising while taking fish oil, you should speak with your doctor. Another precaution to keep in mind… A few ugly bruises here or there might not bother you, but if you are having invasive surgery, consider stopping use. Wearing compression stockings may also lessen unsightly bruising… that is, if you don’t mind the fashion crime.