Which Supplement Could Ignite Your Allergies?

In recent years the medical community has become increasingly aware of all of the ways fish oil supplements can improve your health. But if you suffer from fish allergies, fish oil can put you at increased risk for having a reaction. That's why it's important to learn more about the pros and cons before you take your next dose.

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The key to the benefits of fish oil is the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. Omega 3s have been found to lower blood pressure and triglycerides and can prevent your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Omega 3s can also help with some eye issues, cancers, and brain-related disorders, and can play an important role in reducing inflammation that often occurs with allergies and asthma.

However, for people with fish allergies, this can be a double-edged sword. While taking fish oil supplements may be good for allergies, they can also cause an array of symptoms similar to those caused by other food allergies. This includes itchiness, hives, respiratory symptoms, vomiting, and in severe cases, anaphylactic shock.

Research on Fish Oil

But not everyone with fish allergies will experience these symptoms. In fact, researchers from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine had six participants with fish allergies try fish oil supplements under close supervision. All of the participants were able to tolerate this treatment without any ill effect. These findings were published in September-October 2008 issue of Allergy and Asthma Proceedings.

Fish Oil Options for Allergies

While this study is quite encouraging, however, the scope of the effort was quite small and there's no guarantee that you won't be the exception. Some experts say that if you're allergic to shellfish but can tolerate other types of fish, a high-quality fish oil supplement may be the answer. The same is true if you have a very mild fish allergy that never progresses into anything serious. This is because with mild fish allergies and sensitivities, the reaction is usually to the fish muscle tissue and not the fat. High-quality fish oil will often (although not always) have less of these allergic parts in it. However, it's important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate supplements and therefore, there's no way to know for sure if even the highest quality fish oils will be safe for you.

What You Can Do

Always check with your doctor before you experiment with omega-3 supplements so that you don't inadvertently put yourself in any danger. Also, ask him about taking a vegetarian omega-3 fatty acid supplement instead, or try walnuts, flaxseed, or flaxseed oil, which are also high in omega-3s and might be easier for you to tolerate.




Healthywomen.org "Ask the Expert. Fish Oil." N.d. Web. 10 May 2012.

Mark B.J, et al. "Are fish oil supplements safe in finned fish-allergic patients?" Allergy Asthma Proceedings 29 (5)(Sept.-Oct. 2008): 528-9. Web. 11 May 2012.

Mayo Clinic. "Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid." 1 Oct.2011. Web. 9 May 2012.

Medline Plus. "Fish Oil." 10 Dec. 2011. Web. 10 May 2012.