Tolerability of omega-3 fatty acid supplements in perinatal women

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2007 Oct-Nov;77(3-4):203-8. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2007.09.004. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


Background: Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in perinatal women are well documented, although fish intake has declined among perinatal women.

Objective: To determine the tolerability of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in perinatal women.

Design: Pregnant and postpartum women with major depressive disorder (MDD) entered an 8-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of omega-3 fatty acids. Four capsules provided 1.84 g/day of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or matching placebo (corn oil with 1% fish oil to maintain blind). Tolerability was assessed by clinician interview biweekly.

Results: Fifty-nine women enrolled. Thirteen (22%) reported mainly transient side effects including dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, burping, heartburn/reflux, difficulty swallowing capsules, unpleasant breath/bad taste or feeling tired. The most common were unpleasant breath/bad taste and heartburn/reflux. Six reporting side effects received omega-3 fatty acids; seven received placebo. Neither pregnant nor postpartum women discontinued due to intolerability.

Conclusions: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements were well tolerated by perinatal women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Fish Oils / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Puerperal Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils